Tipping Point in Indian Sports - Review of Indian Performance at Asian Games & Commonwealth Games!!
Indian Athletes performed reasonably well this year at Commonwealth Games 2018 as well as 18th Asian Games Jakarta-Palembang 2018. Indian athletes did exceptionally well in the sporting events like Shooting, Badminton, Table Tennis and to an extent in Wrestling – if we see the quality of competition across the events. Have we reached Tipping Point in some of these sports?
When a certain small activity, effort, change keeps growing, it reaches a point- where it suddenly transforms into something significant, something more sustainable which creates impact, it assumes critical mass to survive & excel.
Over years, only sport that excelled in India is Cricket but that too in select few Metro cities (Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore etc.), couple of decades back a tipping point came and suddenly there was a significant number of players started emerging from smaller towns, non-cricketing locations (likes of M. S. Dhoni, Bhubaneshwar Kumar) and though following was Pan-India, now the game has spread and sustained in the larger part of the country.
Over years Indians got success in other sports mainly due to individual talent and brilliance. There have been Viswanathan Anand, Vijay Amritraj, Prakash Padukone, P T Ushas of the world- but that success wasn’t followed through with the set of other players emerging and going a step further – this continued till the phenomenon reached the Tipping Point especially in a few games at a different time in the last decade or so. We can see it happened in Chess, Shooting, Badminton and it might have just happened in Table Tennis and looking at younger generation’s interest, could it be football few years down the line?
In the sports context, Tipping Point brings more fan following and viewership, prime-time media coverage, more kids taking up the sports, more coaching facilities, better competition, more sponsorship, more exposure in the International events, creates larger pool of strong player, introduction of leagues, sustained revenue for the game and multiple career options for associated players/coaches/trainers etc. This is the position post- Tipping Point, in which game can sustain beyond individual brilliance.
Today local Chess tournaments have a participation of International and FIDE Masters if not Grand Masters - which provides a better opportunity to newer players to compete against the best and also to earn ELO points – results in even more masters get into the system.
If we follow any international Badminton Tournament today at any level in any country, we do find multiple/different Indian players participating and same is the case for the Shooting- though it was considered Elite or army sports a few years back, once it passed its Tipping Point, we can see players from different background taking up the sport with the support system in place. Wrestlers have earned the stardom, fan following that and even Bollywood has invested in making a movie.
The result- different players are winning medals regularly in the Olympics/World Championship in these sports- not based on one individual brilliance.
I believe a Similar thing is happening in Table Tennis right now- Indian Participation in international events has increased and results are showing, only till 5 years ago, India wasn't considered a force in Table Tennis but now potentially India can win against any country – barring China. It is not a coincidence that India now also has Table Tennis star in Manika Batra
Success beyond Tipping points builds its own ecosystem which IPL has created- a lot of career options not only for players, umpires, commentators but also for Sports physiologist, Physios, statisticians, even Artificial Intelligence and many other professions /fields that we couldn’t have related to Cricket before.
I hope these multiple sports also self-sustain like Cricket did after reaching Tipping Point and we see an abundance of champions emerging from our country. India has a huge demographic advantage- channelizing the energies in sports can create a lot of positivity around. Key is to believe in small steps, sustained efforts and collectively work towards the Tipping Point for the success.