As parents, we always want our kids to be in the best of professions. We want them to build careers which are sustainable and ensure a comfortable life. Not just this we also give them ample opportunities to excel in life. We aim towards making them Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Programmers, etc. But does a sportsperson feature in the list. Do we ever think about Sports as a career option for our kids? Maybe for only 10% of us. Maybe we allow them to pursue it as a hobby but we do not consider it as a full-time career.
Whenever our country represents any major tournaments, people compare the number of medals to the population of our country and say that we are not all doing justice to the money spent on sports. But I believe it should be compared with the number of people taking up sports seriously as their career. In that perspective, we are still doing better. The facilities were underdeveloped, things were complicated, but now the whole system is developing. When we say India is a developing country it is developing in Sports too. We need to change our mindsets and look towards the broader picture.
Recently I started getting into this topic and did a small survey, generally by speaking to parents in our circle of friends and tried to understand why this approach towards sports. Some of the views were very genuine views and there were perspectives which were valid and needed to be discussed. But yes, all of them had solutions and none was a strong point to deny your kid from pursuing sports as a career.
Sharing some points of concerns and some counterpoints for the same:
‘There are 1 lac jobs for Engineers and only 11 slots in Indian Cricket Team’.
So the probability is much lesser. Agree, but not every time you need to make it to the top 11. And cricket is not the only sport available in India. Still, if I consider it to be the most lucrative and highly paid game at present, there are numerous opportunities available when you get associated with a game. For example in Cricket there 5-6 teams in which players are playing at an International level like Senior Men’s team, India A, India B, Under 19 team, Under 15 team etc. Then there are Ranji teams for every state, so on so forth. Even a Ranji player has a decent career and can earn 10 to 15 lakhs per annum.
I counter my friends who debate the point of remuneration by saying all engineers also do not rise to the level of CEO. Similarly, in Sports, the number of people who achieve heights is limited but that does not mean it cannot be taken as a profession.
‘If the child after giving a certain amount of time to sports is not skilled enough to compete on international levels’
I would like to share some thoughts on the same. Sports is a huge industry which is presently limited to people who are associated with it for a long time or know inside out of it. If we take any game there is a huge number of people involved in it apart from the players. There are coaches, physios, nutritionists, analysts, cinematographers, ground management, referees and umpires etc. If one has interest towards a game and is willing to spend his/her life dedicatedly to it, one can get involved in number ways to keep the interest alive as well as have a decent career to earn and lead a comfortable life. Great examples like Kumar Dharamsena, Sanjay Bangar, Bharath Arun, who came as players and later became umpire, coach or referees.
It is just about identifying ones strength and acting accordingly. This is what is implied in other professions also I believe. None of the streams guarantees anything. It is all about how one makes choices and acts in the given situation to move ahead.
‘Only cricket pays in India’.
Another concern that is very commonly mentioned by parents I happen to interact with. This was a scenario about 7 -8 years back in our country. I will not deny the same. But things have really changed after the last 2 Olympics and introduction of many leagues in Football, Kabaddi, Badminton and tennis. Athletics and Track and Field events are also gaining popularity. Our athletes have done extremely well in Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. Government is also supporting major tournaments and the remuneration has gone up for all disciplines.
‘Single injury and people have their career finished’.
This point was quite valid and discussed in detail with many parents. The point is yes physical sports are prone to injuries but then minor injuries get recovered and very few sportsperson face career-threatening injuries. If we take the few cases then they can be easily outnumbered by regular accidents and other mishaps that occur with people being in any occupation of their choice. We cannot control such instances and cannot be a factor in deciding whether a child should take up sports as a career or not. Which career gives you the guarantee of life?
‘Giving full time to sports will hamper the minimal education of the child’
I believe it is not the case. When we have certain sportsmen who left studies early to master their game there are many who are qualified engineers and professional apart from being in sports. The way we plan for a kids career by sparing time for ITT JEE entrance examination or other exams for various courses, the same way education can be handled with an active sports schedule. Yes, it needs a lot of support from parents and the guide but nowadays there is huge support from schools and colleges also. In fact, I have heard of students getting admissions in universities abroad on the sports rankings in Tennis and Badminton in India.
This decade has seen a huge encroachment in a student’s free time in form of entertainment, digital and social media, online gaming etc. All of them are industries, targeting today’s kids and have pros and cons. But I argue why sports can’t be one of the options. It has far-reaching benefits then all the above-mentioned activities and this has been proven over the years.
I believe there is a long way to go and a change has to come from every sphere to make the people aware and understand the importance of this industry as a whole. The government, education system, parents and students all need to be educated and curriculums should be inculcated with schedules that make this aspect at least an option for children and parents to select.
I feel we can surely have sports as a career option for our kids if they have interest. It can be pursued right from the beginning just as a formal education. Do share your thoughts on this in the comments section.
Let’s strive to make India a Sports playing nation rather than just be Sports loving nation.
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