Sports Administrator K Govindaraj's FICCI Lifetime Achievement Award sends out wrong message to Indian basketball community

K Govindaraj (middle) is flanked by players from the 3x3 National Championship [Image: BFI Twitter]
K Govindaraj (middle) is flanked by players from the 3x3 National Championship [Image: BFI Twitter]

On 11th December, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) held its 'India Sports Awards', as part of its 9th Global Sports Summit. 19 awards were handed out at the ceremony hosted at the Federation House, Tansen Marg, New Delhi.

About the FICCI India Sports Awards 2019

There were many interesting categories of awards that in FICCI's own words "are an attempt by FICCI to acknowledge the contribution and felicitate the Olympics sports achievers and the various stake holders in the ecosystem who do exceptional work in the Promotion of Sports and bring pride to the nation."

Besides the player awards, awards were handed out in innovative categories such as 'Best Company Promoting Sports', 'Best NGO Promoting Sports', 'Best Sports Startup', 'Best Sports Journalist', etc.

Govindaraj wins Lifetime Achievement Award (Administrator)

But it is another award category - 'Lifetime Achievement Award (Administrator)' - that is of special interest to the Indian basketball community, thanks to its declared winner this year.

This year, the administrative Lifetime Achievement Award went to Karnataka's Govindaraj Kempareddy, who, among holding other administrative posts, is the current President of the Basketball Federation of India (BFI). Notably, Mr. Govindaraj is also the Vice-president of the Indian Olympic Association.

A perusal of Mr. K Govindaraj's Wikipedia page would show a long history of organizing various sports events within Karnataka right from 1990. Additionally, it also highlights Mr. Govindaraj as having served as a 'Chief-De-Mission'/manager of Indian contingents at various sports events.

Award Hard to digest for Indian basketball fans

Considering the above established credentials, on paper at least, Mr. Govindaraj appears to be a reasonable choice for winning a Lifetime Achievement Award as a sports administrator in India.

But the Indian basketball community may well disagree, or at the very least ponder as to the timing of this award.

K Govindaraj wins 2019 FIBA 'President's Award' [ image accessed via BFI's Instagram page]
K Govindaraj wins 2019 FIBA 'President's Award' [ image accessed via BFI's Instagram page]

Just four months ago, Mr Govindaraj, in his capacity as BFI President, was selected for the 'President's Award' by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).

Earlier, in December 2017 and June 2019, Govindaraj also managed to secure powerful positions within FIBA, as a member of its Competition Commission and as a member of FIBA Asia's Central Board.

In all this time, on the domestic basketball front, there have been nosedives in our national teams' performances stemming from controversial player bans, a repeated failure to start basketball leagues at the professional, college and school levels despite multiple promises to do the same, a continued inability to resolve a long-standing funding freeze implemented by IMG-Reliance dating back to 2015, and strategically timed suspensions of voting rights of select State Associations before the all-important BFI National Body General Elections.

Award sends out wrong message

Looked at in isolation, Mr. Govindaraj's latest FICCI recognition will barely come up on the radar of India's sporting community. After all, the real headline-grabbing stars are the actual players who compete day in and day out on the field.

Even when viewed through the larger lens of Mr. Govindaraj's contributions outside of basketball, in terms of promoting overall sports within and beyond Karnataka, this award may barely raise a few eyebrows.

But from the standpoint of the Indian basketball community, Govindaraj's latest laurel raises more questions than it answers. It is indicative of the continuation of a disturbing trend whereby despite a proven track record of failed promises and dubious decisions taken in his tenure that have visibly harmed the sport, Mr. Govindaraj's stock only seems to rise uninterrupted. The FICCI award is yet another sign that Mr. Govindaraj is steadily cementing himself within the national and international sports administrative firmament and may well continue to dictate the fortunes of India's Olympic sports for many more decades to come.

No doubt, Mr. Govindaraj has had a long career as an influential sports administrator stretching back to almost three decades. But simply on the basis of his tenure as the President of the Basketball Federation of India from 2015 to date, this latest FICCI recognition feels undeserved, or at the very least, premature.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and they do not necessarily represent the views of Sportskeeda.

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Edited by Raunak J
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