What a terrific Commonwealth Games it has been for India. It is a performance that makes all of us feel very proud of our athletes. It should not come as a total surprise for the country’s Sports Minister, as Rajyavardhan Rathore is himself a medal winner at the Olympics, and so has systems in place where the athletes can train and prepare in the best possible conditions and with the best possible trainers and support staff. The next target for all the medal winners should be to improve upon their efforts and aim for a medal in the Olympics.

Gavaskar Logo   What has also been heart-warming is the tremendous coverage, especially in the print media, for the Games, and that too when the incredibly popular Indian Premier League is on. Hopefully, this will be an on-going thing and not just a one-off, for the athletes work their bodies to a breaking point not just for the medals but for recognition of their efforts too. Sure, the time difference between Gold Coast in Australia and India has made it a lot easy for the reports to be in detail rather than brief ones. And once again, one hopes that this will now be a regular feature.

If cricket has become such a big sport in India today, it has largely to do with the media coverage it gets. Once all sports get equal or near equal coverage, they will also prosper, as not only will more youngsters take up different sports but more sponsors will also come in. And with the funds that the sponsors bring in, the other sports could well be a good career option.

This is the main reason why so many youngsters all over the world take up football. Not only is it an inexpensive sport with very little cost for equipment — all that a youngster needs is a pair of good boots and a ball — it can also be played almost anywhere. So you see pictures of kids dribbling the ball or practising balancing the ball on their heads even in their small living rooms. So parents encourage their children to take up football because it could be a great career option. Of course, everybody does not make it as a professional footballer, but just the very idea that there is a possibility to make a career out of it allows the parents to encourage their child if they see a spark in him instead of pulling him home to bury his head in homework. Not for a moment is it being suggested that studies should be ignored. No sir, no way, for there is not the slightest doubt that if a child has studied even up to the pre-university level he will have a more thoughtful approach to his game and think how to improve and get better.

If today parents are quite happy to allow their children to play cricket, it’s simply because they see a future for their child in the sport. Yes, there will be heartbreaks more often than not, but the dream of their child will be encouraged too.

This is where the media has a role to play. They need to not only highlight the winners but also spread the message of how much hard work they have put in to win glory for their country. The media can make huge stars out of the medal winners, and they need to urge corporate houses to look at other sports for brand-building.

The medal winners should brush up on their PR skills, for that will help them in spreading the word about their achievements as well as their efforts. They can learn from some of the cricketers who have pretty ordinary performances but enjoy a huge public and media presence. If they do that then they too can make their medals count for more than just its colour.