Can Indian hockey be given its due credit?
The year was 2007. Cheerleaders danced to the beats of a Bollywood song as India was about to script a nail-biting finish against Pakistan in the cricket Twenty20 World Cup final.
With tricolour flags in hand, almost every Indian spectator was gripped with the spirit of patriotism. The impact on TV viewers couldn’t have been less.
And all this while, little did cricket fans realise that intensity was coming from a song ‘Chak De India‘ filmed on a sport so different in its administration, handling and following.
Of a sport that brought the nation eight Olympic gold medals.
Of a sport that saw the emergence of a spectacular sportsman.
Of a sport that went on to witness one of its most unfortunate days when India failed to make the cut at the Olympics for the first time in 80 years.
Of a sport that shook the collective conscience of an entire country as one controversy after another surrounded its administrators.
Of a sport whose achievers are languishing in poverty.
The fresh crisis in the national sport is not new at all. The Indian hockey team was caught in a similar pay controversy ahead of a tournament in the 1990s. The players got the rough end of the stick.
In later years, the sport continued to go through a series of misfortunes as the hockey administration tumbled towards a total collapse. The new administration Hockey India (HI) is yet to hold its own let alone administering the game cleanly.
The latest controversy has once again exposed the flagrant disregard for sportsmen who have chosen to ignore lucrative careers offered elsewhere.
All this at a time when India is just a month away from hosting the 2010 Hockey World Cup. And when all eyes are set on the 2010 Commonwealth Games which already has been grappling with a host of issues.
Is the foundation of our national sport this fragile that it needs Bollywood to inspire its management and functioning?
Has the weapon in India’s arsenal that won accolades across the globe been reduced to just a stick in the mud today?
Will India ever revive the sport that won the country its first Olympic gold?