Gavaskar: Calling the country a joke over award snub is unpardonable

It was shocking to hear that a badminton player went to the extent of calling the country a joke after he missed out on an award nomination.

Frustrated: Badminton star H. S. Prannoy has expressed his displeasure over his name not being recommended for the Arjuna Award by the Badminton Association of India (BAI).   -  PTI

Come the months of May and June and the nominations for the various sports awards instituted by the Government of India begins. Over the last few years the nominations were usually followed by criticism by those who felt ignored that they were not nominated and on some occasions, those matters even went to the courts.

Let me be honest here and confess that I have little idea of the criteria that each national federation uses to nominate the sportspersons from their discipline. But whatever that is, when the ignored sportsperson goes to the court then it begs the question of whether the spirit of sportsmanship has been forgotten. After all, every sportsperson without any exception has faced failure somewhere down the line and he/she becomes even better after learning the lesson to work harder and win the next time and then again and again. That is what sports teaches you — to treat failure as a stepping stone to success. So, instead of accepting the non-nomination and non-selection in that spirit, when sportspersons resort to approaching the court or vent their feelings by calling the country names then irrespective of their achievements they just lower themselves in the eyes of the sports followers. Quite frankly, they are nothing but cry babies.

READ| Prannoy lashes out at BAI after Arjuna award snub

This is a more recent phenomenon, may be because there is a financial reward too alongside the award and so it’s more to do with missing the dosh than anything. While most of those who missed out take out their frustration in the media space it was shocking to hear a badminton player go to the extent of calling the country a joke. Hello youngster, it is because of this country you are what you are. The opportunities this country has given you, the support systems that it has afforded you, the fan following that this country has given you is the reason you are where you are today. So be grateful for it instead of calling the country names just because you missed out on an award. Do you win every time? Did the country turn you away when you failed to win? Did it not welcome you back and took you in its arms and make available all the facilities and support to get over the loss and get better? How about a thank you for that?

The Badminton Federation did come out and explain that it was not just performance but disciplinary issues that were the reason for his non-nomination. This unseemly outburst just confirms what the Federation must have experienced. Unless he apologises he should never be considered for selection for the country again. One could have understood his anger if he had a go at the Federation which failed to nominate him but to call the country a joke is simply unpardonable.

READ| Gavaskar: Chandrasekhar, Prasanna, Venkataraghavan played cricket for love of it

Make no mistake, any sport flourishes only because of its players and the joy they give to the followers of that sport. The good administrators are those who create the environment, infrastructure and facilities for the players to perform at their best. They have a role to play too in doing that and the best ones are usually those who create the conditions and then stay in the background. As with any human being, they too will have their likes and dislikes of certain players and have their favourites too. That is totally understandable as long as these likes and dislikes don’t interfere in the optimum performance by the players and opportunities given in an individual or team sport. Financial security for a player can work both ways where he can get content and lazy or be ambitious to be the best. As long as the administrators are aware that there is a shelf life for a sportsperson and the better part of youth is spent on trying to be the best one can be, there will be little or no conflict at all between the players and officials. That’s, of course, easier said than done.

There have been a plenty of administrators whose contribution to developing and raising the standard of sport in their states or cities has been recognised by naming stadiums and trophies in their names, and justifiably so. However, their real reward is when they are fondly remembered by the players. There are so many of them who have no stadia or trophies named after them but when their names come up, the twinkle in the eyes of the players who played during their time is their real reward.

So also with the players.

So, stop whining about not getting an award. Instead try and win a place in the people's hearts.