Geet Sethi at Sportstar West Sports Conclave 2022: Professionalism in sports is required now more than ever

The panelists weighed in on different aspects of alternate careers in sports during Sportstar’s day-long Sportstar West Sports Conclave in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

Geet Sethi, former world snooker and billiards champion, Christopher Pedra, Sports Physio, Reliance Foundation, Professor Isaac Jacob, Professor Emeritus, KJ Somaiya Institute of Management and Prashant Khanna, Head, field management and technological development at Star Sports and Disney Plus Hotstar, at the Sportstar West Sports Conclave in Ahmedabad.

Geet Sethi, former world snooker and billiards champion, Christopher Pedra, Sports Physio, Reliance Foundation, Professor Isaac Jacob, Professor Emeritus, KJ Somaiya Institute of Management and Prashant Khanna, Head, field management and technological development at Star Sports and Disney Plus Hotstar, at the Sportstar West Sports Conclave in Ahmedabad. | Photo Credit: VIJAY SONEJI

The panelists weighed in on different aspects of alternate careers in sports during Sportstar’s day-long Sportstar West Sports Conclave in Ahmedabad on Sunday.

Prashant Khanna, Head, field management and technological development at Star Sports and Disney Plus Hotstar, on Sunday, said that opportunities are aplenty for those aiming to get into sports production.

"There is no real degree or course that expects you to do it - but if the intent is there, there are multiple opportunities," said Khanna during a panel discussion on Alternate careers in sports at Sportstar's West Sports Conclave in Ahmedabad on Saturday.

"Our job is to make them good on Television and OTT platforms. But there is a big ecosystem behind what you see on TV. Besides the commentators and talents, there is a graphic designer, project operations manager, cameraman, analysts, and statisticians.. For instance, for one IPL game, we have around 350 people at the backend across the board.

"We have worked with data scientists who have put together the front-facing technology for our feeds; creative designers decide how a graphic should look on screen and mobile... and then there are people who are writing scripts."

Christopher Pedra, sports physio with the Reliance Foundation, threw light on how the sporting ecosystem in India has expanded in the last 10 years. "Massive change in a short term," he said. "The big change I have seen in seven years is that the Public-Private Partnerships and NGOs have now become the accepted way of getting best results in Indian sports. Through this process, you've seen things like physiotherapy support, strength & conditioning support and sports medicine support come up.

"There are in-house specialists now for all these aspects, but every now and then, there is a specific requirement for an athlete at the pinnacle of what they are doing. You then keep aside the ego and go outside the ecosystem to find that support... ecosystem works well when you are able to absorb that support temporarily, use their expertise, learn from them and grow. The whole system is still growing, which is a good thing because we are nowhere near where we need to be in terms of support structure point of view," he said.

Meanwhile, former world snooker and billiards champion and founder, Olympic Gold Quest, Geet Sethi also shared his views. “Professionalism in sport was required 30 years ago, it is required now more than ever. I personally believe that an entire ecosystem in our country, starting from political will, the hunger of the athlete, the desire of athletes not to just wanting to go there and win an Olympic medal, but an Olympic gold medal - along with infrastructure development and the kind of support systems they have through NGOs, the TOPS, SAI everything is merging together and we are at an invention point,” Sethi said.

Professor Isaac Jacob, Professor Emeritus at K J Somaiya Institute of Management, spoke about the academic side of things. "What we have done [ K J Somaiya Institute of Management] is we've tried to look at it in terms of how do you turn your passion into your profession. We have undergraduate and post-graduate level courses. The UG level is mostly technical... you get a degree at the end of a three-year course which equips you to handle the technicalities of whichever discipline you get into.

"The PG level looks at sports management as a vertical that will get into professionalizing sport. It is a two-year comprehensive course in management which gives you an understanding of how to manage professionally the whole business of sports."

The Conclave was held in association with Hero We Care, a Hero Motocorp CSR Initiative, K.J. Somaiya Institute of Management, Indian Oil, Shiv Naresh, Stag International, SBI and LIC.

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