Indian sports lacks a long-term agenda and unified action game development program
Sports has the power to heal, build character, resolve differences, unite people and create cohesiveness within a nation. With close to 45% of India's population under the age of 20, sports can be effectively leveraged to build life skills.
Change through sport creates a deeper granular impact that prepares future generations and helps integrate people, culture and religions.
With this understanding in mind, the Indian Government has initiated a number of policy & program changes to promote sports towards two objectives: - (1) Build Awareness & Participation at the Grass-Roots Level, (2) Performance Excellence and Podium Finishes
INDIA'S SPORTS DEVELOPMENT MODEL IS LOPSIDED:
The sports industry in India is estimated to grow at a 20% clip over the next decade. Seeing this opportunity, big corporates and entrepreneurs are actively evaluating & investing across the full spectrum - incubating leagues, broadcasting, athlete performance, technology and the support ecosystem. However, the sports development model seems lopsided and suffers from: (1) Skewed Allocation of funds, (2) Limited Grass-root Development Focus & Commercial Viability, (3) Unbalanced Media Coverage & Poor Awareness Building Efforts, (4) Unsustainable Career Choice & (5) Lack of Patience & Long-Term Focus
BENEFITS OF INVESTING IN SPORTS: All stakeholders benefit by investing in sports but the greatest benefit accrues to India.
KEY INVESTOR CONCERNS: Over the last decade, sporting leagues have popped up across Badminton, Hockey, Football, Wrestling & Kabaddi and many more are planned across other sports such as Athletics, Golf, Boxing, Volleyball & Basketball. However, almost every league is struggling with key fundamental questions that include:
These questions can be addressed in the long term only if India has an - (1) Agenda for Sports Development, (2) Adopts a Unified Action Game Development Program
(1) INDIA’s “FIVE POINT AGENDA” TOWARDS SPORTS DEVELOPMENT: Statistics indicate that India’s level of participation in sports is less than 2% of our total population versus the USA & the EU at 32% while Asia-Pacific Region is at about 15% of total population.
While the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports works to develop the National Sports Policy, including the Sports Code, the National Sports Federations need to get their game plan in place. Over the last decade, the private sector have participated in sports development but their impact and focus have largely been felt in Cricket. Sports promotion through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is one way. Corporate India's CSR outlay in 2017-18 was roughly INR 9, 275 Crores of which only 0.67% (or INR 122 Crores) was towards sports.
(2) UNIFIED ACTION GAME DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM: Provide Sports promoters the opportunity to positively impact the development of the sport by integrating efforts across the vertical.
Creating sports leagues is not the only way. Its impact is limited since the benefits are shared by only a few at the top end of the sport. Sports needs to be encouraged and promoted at the grassroots level; youngsters and their parents have to see sports as a financially viable career option, the packaging of the sport needs to be slick, digital mediums have to be used to engage with audience and the fanbase and local communities have to find a way to participate. Only then will the impact be long-term and sustainable.
Unless the game keepers of Indian sport begin to form a comprehensive view of sports development, sporadic reform and minuscule changes will continue to happen but will be unable to deliver long-term sustainable impact.