It's OKAY, Sport....

No night out here at IIT Bombay is complete without a trip to Maddu Mess. The early risers could give it a try too but that would be like breaking the tradition, wont it bros? Located in some dingy lanes near the Y Point gate, it’s not easy to locate it. But after three years of night outs I could sleep walk to the smell of “daal wadas and mendu wadas”. But the prized and the most coveted dish is the “onion anda dosa”. A couple of those could be a full meal. I prefer to wind up with a cup of freshly brewed kapi (south Indian coffee). The high point though is that all this and much more can be had in less than 40 bucks.

It is a small place run by a simple, unassuming family. The husband generally makes the coffee and the wadas etc. And auntie makes the dosas. Their son John generally does the serving and stuff… You might be wondering how I know his name. Well sometimes I do wander off to the IIT football ground on weekends and there he is, playing his brand of football. He easily is the best defender I have ever played against. That I prefer to play forward makes things all the more difficult for me. He has amazing control over the ball and can dribble with easy. And when he does take the ball ahead, he ends up either scoring or assisting. And yes I am not over emphasizing. I just don’t even compare to him.

Sitting in the crowded table of Maddu Mess, I cannot stop wondering why is this amazing footballer serving dishes and cleaning up the tables. He should have been playing with some club or more. A player of his skills could have easily made it. As it is evident he did not have a family which could back him. And there aren’t many successes in the game to have given him any hope to even take a shot at professional football. And now he is destined to a life of a Nobody. It is a story of what could have been and what is.

But why? Why is any sport other than cricket just not a route to success? Why do we obsess about players who either end up betting on the game or else losing it? Why do we as a nation waste nine hours over a game in which we end up seeing Amitabh Bachchan more number of times than the number of overs?

Have we ever wondered that in a nation of more than a billion and counting, we have just a few sportsmen of world class? Why is that the second most populated country in the world goes mad at winning just any medal at the Olympics while our neighbor China aims at winning the Olympics? Why do we go gaga over a Sania Mirza even when she has never broken into top 20 or gone past the second round of any major tournament? Do we, as a nation, lack pride and self-respect or do we accept mediocrity as the maximum attainable standard?

Though these all are true in some way or the other, the single greatest reason we have absolutely no standing in World Sports is that we look down upon sports as a profession. Any one who has tried playing more than than the quota of time allocated by parents must have definitely heard the phrase "Kheloge koodoge to barbaad ho jaooge". Sports just isn't an option if you want to survive in this world, or so is the mindset in our beloved country.

The lack of proper support and infrastructure has deprived our country of the Zidanes and Rivaldos. We all must be familiar with what Zidane did for the Algerian community in France. Not only did he excel in his sport and won the world cup for his country but he brought recognition to his community and hence opening up the gates for recognition and equality for the Algerians. Rivaldo was born to so poor a family, he spent all his childhood as a malnutritioned boy. His legs arched because of that. That those very arched legs helped him hit awkwardly amazing shots is a different story. Had it not been for football, he could very well have been begging on the streets. And these two aren't some stand alone figures. The world of sports if filled with them.

No support and no hope (because of the lack of Heroes) hasn't helped any of the budding or aspiring sportsmen. We are such a diverse nation with ample of diversity. We could find pools of talent for each sport if only we bothers to search and nourish them. We still have tribes which hunt using bow and arrows. should it be impossible to find a world champion amongst those? Our army has one of the best shooters in the world. Why not make them win a few Olympic medals for us? Its only a matter of looking for the right person at the right place and grooming him/her. One successfull sportsman can turn around his fortune and of those around him. And give hope of salvation from a life of mediocrity to a million more.

I sometimes cannot but wonder why do we always have to wish about the things that could have been, let a sigh and let it go?

As I sigh again, the clock ticks five and a couple of "onion anda dosas" beckon...