FestivalsofIndia.in has this to say of the National Sports Day:
August 29 is celebrated as National Sports Day all across the country. August 29 is instituted as National Sports Day in tribute to the legendary hockey player of India. The day marks the birth anniversary of hockey wizard, Major Dhyan Chand.
National Sports Day is mainly celebrated in educational institutes and sports academies all over the country. Various sports events especially hockey matches, prize distribution functions are organized on this day. Celebrations for National Sports Day are more common in Punjab and Chandigarh side.
Special Award distribution event at Rastrapati Bhawan makes this day memorable for many stars of the Indian sports world. Popular and renowned sport-related awards like Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award and Dronacharya Award are presented by honorable president of India, to great sportsmen of the year.
National Sports Day? This chronicler, for one, did not really know of its existence until most recently. Perhaps he has heard of it in passing or had heard of it when he was partaking in some GK session. In any case, it did not register with him. He was perplexed and he looked it up and that was what he found.
So what is National Sports day, anyway? Well, for one, it is Major Dhyan Chand’s birthday. Absolute legend, great sportsman, hence deserves an honor. Fair enough. Nation Sports Day would be most befitting. Right on cue. So there you go, National Sports Day it is.
What comes next? Ah yes! Celebrated in education institutes and sports academies all over the country. This chronicler has studied in a school for 14 years. Admittedly, the school was not the greatest at sports but even so, he had never heard one mention of the festival. The next four years of college were the same. The NCC is what, in general, takes up these noble days and makes something of them. There is no memory of any event, however obscure.
Celebrations for National Sports Day are more common in Punjab and Chandigarh side. As this chronicler has not been to that part of the country, well, certainly not for an education or indeed during the time of National Sports Day, this chronicler cannot comment on how the fanfare is in those parts but can make an educated guess that it is not quite what a day of National Importance ought to be.
We, as a nation, pride ourselves, on being diverse. We are fanatics when it comes to sports and support our ilk through thick and thin; well, through the thick for sure, thin, maybe not quite. We follow our cricket team around and even follow them when they fight each other in a tournament in April. We follow Indian tennis; and by Indian tennis, I say Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, more eagerly for what they are going to say to each other in public than for anything else. We do not really give a damn to the lower rungs of the tennis ladder – those that will, hopefully, produce the next crop of Leanders and Maheshs, sans the fighting, of course.
We do not really know who a Sushil Kumar or a Vijendar is until we get to know that they compete for India and have a chance to win a medal at the Olympics. We cheer and tweet and write and read of Mary Kom during the Olympics. We do not give a damn what she is doing right now.
We pin our hopes on Archers in the Olympics. We get disappointed when we find out that they did not win. We do not care the next day. We celebrate Abhinav Bindra and offer him crores in rewards. We do not remember what discipline he won his gold in. We support and cheer our footballers in the Nehru Cup and will them to win. When they don’t they’re to be ridiculed; they can’t even beat Nepal, where are they dreaming of the World Cup? Bah!, we readily comment before we stop caring.
And of course, we condemn and criticize our hockey team for being inept and disgraceful. They soil the legacy of the late great Dhyan Chand, we point out from time to time. They are not worthy of an Indian jersey, we brandish.
We do all this, and we do more from an armchair. It is easy to do all this and to do more from the comfort of an armchair.
It is easy to outrage, to get angry; it is easy to criticize, to condemn; it is easy to say that we are hopeless, that we will never become a great sporting nation. It is easy. That is why we do it.
By all means, please continue on with this. Please do, for this is what we have always done and this is what we will continue to do. However, there are people in this country who really do care. There are people in this country who are trying to make a difference. It is late; of that there can be no doubt but as the saying goes, it is better to be late than to never be. There are people who are sowing seeds at the grassroots. It will take time, as it does for any tree to grow.
Go out and look around. Look at the kids in your local ground who are trying to play a spot of football amidst the sea of cricket. Go join them or try and referee the game. Get a few hockey bats and a ball and try and give them to the kids sitting around lazing in the slums and the streets. Get some shoes for the street kids and urge them to kick a ball or hold a bat.Why, start off with something as simple as letting your own son or daughter play in the evening rather than sending them for tuition classes.
There is talent and there is potential in this country. Unfortunately, the socio-economic conditions are such that sports take a backseat. There are, however, people who are trying to bring about a change. Look around, you’ll find them. Help them. Or in the least, give them a chance.
Happy National Sports Day.