Make Sports Associations Accountable & Responsible

Make Sports Associations Accountable & Responsible

Sports governing bodies in India always argue that the government should not interfere in the running of sports federations and associations, but ironically, they exist only with government grants. In Europe, sports governing bodies play the role of referees, while in India, sports governing bodies play all the key roles. In India, all the major tournaments in various sports are organized by the respective sports federations. They give affiliation to clubs as they wish. In addition, the selection of teams, conducting coaching camps, and the issuance of certificates to players for government jobs and admissions are the prerogative of the sports governing bodies. So, players, coaches, officials and even club owners are under the complete control of sports governing bodies in India.

Central and state governments in India give crores of rupees yearly as grants to these governing bodies. These grants are causing huge losses to the country’s exchequers as the governments do not conduct any scrutiny or evaluation of the benefits that sports governing bodies make to the society and exchequer. The basic goal of our sports (unfortunately,) is limited to winning a few medals at the Olympics. Adolf Hitler believed that victory in the Olympics (and sports) reflects the country’s strength and he connected sports with patriotism.  Even today, this Adolf Hitler theory leads the Indian sports fraternity. Winning medals in international events such as the Olympics and Asian Games has been the long-term and short-term goal of Indian Sports. Unless we change this Nazi approach, our sports sector will not be able to generate crores of rupees as revenue or/and lakhs of jobs like the sports industries in developed countries.

The amount of financial assistance provided by our Central Government for various sports is very interesting. What are the criteria for this financial assistance? How many people participate or enjoy games like shooting, archery, and weightlifting? Does it make sense for a country like India to spend so much money just for one or two Olympic medals? As mentioned earlier, the country spends crores on the training of athletes to win medals. The medalist will be given lakhs from the treasury as the medal bonus and special prize. Then it is also seen as the responsibility of the government to provide them with government jobs. If this player starts a coaching academy, the government is expected to pay crores for it too. Shouldn’t this sports culture, which is of no benefit to the people or the government, change?

Governments are eager to sell or shut down even the most strategic companies like Air India and BSNL  stating that they are unprofitable. We, the people, support it all. Shouldn’t this wastage of public money in the name of sports be stopped?

Government must give only repayable grants to sports governing bodies and must make the bodies accountable and responsible for achieving pre-agreed performance goals. Income earned by sports organizations through various means such as sponsorship, ticket sales, broadcasting and licensing, new jobs generated, salary paid to players, achievements at the national and international level, and the creation of new infrastructure should be the criteria for evaluating the performance of sports governing bodies.

With the government grants, sports governing bodies must become self-sufficient within a prior agreed time period like three years, and then the government grants must be discontinued. Like the governments closing down schools and factories running in losses, must stop all financial aid to unprofitable sports governing bodies.  We do not need unprofitable sports.

Some may argue that government must promote sports to empower and engage the community. Whether governments promote sports or not, people will choose to watch the sports they like. They will play the games they want to play. There is no need for government and sports governing bodies to promote sports among people. But for making a self-reliant sports industry that makes billions in revenue and creates millions of jobs, we need sensible involvement of governments and sports governing bodies.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the only self-reliant sports governing body in India that does not receive any government funding. From 2018 to 2022, the BCCI would receive Rs 16,347 crores as broadcasting fees alone. That is Rs 4087 crore per annum. In 2020-21, the Union Budget allotted only Rs 2826.92 crore for sports. The difference between the revenue of the BCCI and the sports expenditure of the central government shows the magnitude of the revenue that profitable sports governing bodies can achieve. Like the BCCI, if our other sports governing bodies work to achieve self-sufficiency without aiming only for the government money, it will create huge revenues for our exchequers and will create fresh jobs. The most important way to lead sports governing bodies to self-sufficiency is to phase out government funding for sports. In addition, training should be given to sports administrators in sports management.

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