Playing spoilsport with Formula One?
Despite the Force India team taking second place at the podium at the Belgian Grand Prix there is no rethinking in the sports ministry on its view that Formula One is not enough of a sport.
Sports minister M.S. Gill congratulated Vijay Mallya on his team’s win but labelled Formula One as ‘expensive entertainment’.
The sports ministry has refused approval to the promoters of Formula 1 in India, JPSK Sports, to pay 1.7 billion rupees to the Formula One Administration for the proposed Indian Grand Prix of 2011.
The ministry has reasoned that the Formula One race “does not satisfy conditions which focus on human endeavour for excelling in competition with others, keeping in view the whole sports movement from Olympic downwards.”
It wrote to the promoters that Formula One is not purely sports, it is entertainment and the venture by JPSK Sports was a commercial initiative.
The sports ministry’s argument stands on two legs. Formula One is expensive entertainment and the outcome is determined by technology hence it is not ‘pure sports’.
Is sport supposed to be boring — that’s a question which can be posed at least rhetorically?
Sports like golf and tennis aren’t exactly cheap sports I can play in my backyard, assuming I had one.
As for human endeavour in Formula One, former world champion Michael Schumacher couldn’t return to the sport because of fitness concerns. Surely there is more to Formula One than just zippy cars and technology.
Technology and better training determine the outcome in all sports. Use of polyurethane swimsuits has been debated in swimming.
Commercialisation of sports has for long been debated. Cricket is probably one of the most commercialised sports in India.
Should we go back to some pristine version of the game when it was played on the village greens?
Cricket is heavily tilted in favour of batsmen because the gentry used to bat and the commoners used to bowl when the game was evolving, according to a school text book I chanced upon once.
Can any sport be divorced from its social context? Are there any sports in the country which can be called ‘purely sports’?
Periodicals have carried stories of old sports warhorses living the last days of their lives in penury.
Sports certainly became respectable in the middle-class society I grew up in after they linked up with money.
Otherwise sports was for the academic losers and failures, seen as the cause as well as the effect.
India’s absence in most sporting arenas didn’t help either.
My six-storey school building did not even have a playground. It was built over for the science labs.
The Olympics, mentioned by the sports ministry, have allowed professional athletes to compete in certain sports like tennis since 1988.
Is the ministry’s view justified?