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This Is What's Seriously Wrong With The Debate On Salman As Olympic Ambassador

29/04/2016 8:13 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST
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ISHARA S. KODIKARA via Getty Images
Indian Bollywood film actor Salman Khan gestures at a free medical clinic organised to drum up support for President Rajapakse who is seeking re-election at a January 8, 2015 poll, in the capital Colombo on December 29, 2014. President Rajapakses campaign suffered the worst setback so far when his main Muslim political ally ditched his coalition December 28, 2014 and pledged support to the main opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena. AFP PHOTO / ISHARA S. KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

Does it matter what Dipa Karmakar's preparation plans are to win an Olympic medal?

No.

Is it important to check with the Indian Olympic Association what support rower Dattu Bhokanal needs before Rio?

Definitely not.

Is it critical that Team India's final run up to the games be planned in a manner so encouraging and supportive that the country wins more medals than ever before?

Don't be preposterous.

The most important story in India about the ultimate event in sports--The Summer Olympic Games--is whether Salman Khan was the right choice for Goodwill Ambassador.

My knee-jerk reaction was that a sports person should be appointed as Goodwill Ambassador to a sporting event. I thought the choice of Salman was senseless. I was wrong. This entire debate is senseless.

Appoint Salman, don't appoint Salman... we are forgetting the fundamental point that India's REAL ambassadors are playing on the field.

Do you remember our Goodwill Ambassador to the 2012 London Games? My point exactly.

Appoint Salman, don't appoint Salman... we are forgetting the fundamental point that India's REAL ambassadors are playing on the field.

If there ever was more evidence required to indicate that we are not a sporting nation, then this obsession with the Salman Khan story fits the bill.

The Bollywood-obsessed nation that we are propels our media to make a story out of something so insignificant that it makes one weep for the athletes of our country. Rather than question the Indian Olympic Association on how team India is being prepped and supported, we are questioning them about Salman Khan. There were more headlines about Gautam Gambhir's views on who he thinks should be ambassador, than on rower Dattu Bhokanal qualifying for the games.

The sad reality is that most of the country doesn't care about sports other than cricket. Three months before the cricket World Cup we would have known what haircut Shikhar Dhawan was going to sprout but here we are three months before the Olympics and most people would need to Google Dipa Karmakar's name just to spell it correctly. Most alleged 'sports fans' probably know the status of Virat and Anuskha's relationship but won't know which sport Deepika Kumari represents the nation in. I'll save you the Google search--it is archery.

There were more headlines about Gautam Gambhir's views on who he thinks should be ambassador, than on rower Dattu Bhokanal qualifying for the games.

There is nothing wrong in not caring about other sports. It is what it is. I love cricket too and completely understand that it hogs the media space so why fight it? But if that is the case we shouldn't complain and ask the same question every time there is a big event, "How can a nation of more than one billion people not find an athlete who can win a medal?" Well, if we are questioning the IOA on Salman rather than on more important issues what do we expect?

If the Oscar-nominated film Spotlight is any indication, the media can be a powerful tool in creating change. Yet, for all the talk about how India is not a sporting nation there isn't one article that goes in-depth about where the problem lies. How is the IOA functioning? How is each sports association working? What needs to be done and how does one move forward to create successful sportspeople in India. We choose instead to focus on the trivial things. We don't even write about the good work done by organizations such as the Olympic Gold Quest and also don't ask the fundamental question--why should there be a need for Olympic Gold Quest to exist in the first place? As someone in the media I am as guilty as my esteemed colleagues in this regard.

The Bollywood-obsessed nation that we are propels our media to make a story out of something so insignificant that it makes one weep for the athletes of our country.

Unfortunately, since becoming MP in 2012 Sachin Tendulkar hasn't done much to boost sports either. A lost opportunity by someone who could have made a huge difference.

Things may change in the future. Films have been made about Milkha Singh, Mary Kom and one is apparently being made on Dhyan Chand. There is also a documentary being filmed on the amazing story of Deepika Kumari and her rise to success. This will bring other sports to the forefront.

In addition, nothing perks the interest of a nation like their fellow citizens winning. A good show by some of our athletes may create a spark. We just need to make certain that the spark turns in to a fire of interest and support for sports men and women across all fields. Once this happens and we find success, I guarantee that we won't care about our Goodwill Ambassador.

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