With the Winter Olympics now in full force, it got me thinking about India’s involvement in the sports. I got excited, dreaming of a Cool Runnings’esque situation with amazing athletes running on ice or skiing down the slopes.
Sadly, only three men out of India’s one billion plus population made it to the winter Olympics in Vancouver this year. I have to say that I was very disappointed, given all the hype over athleticism in India, particularly over the unbeatable skill of the cricket players. After a little more digging, I discovered that it wasn’t the skill (or even the snow) that athletes in India were lacking, but rather the money. Athletes in India do not receive money from the government and rarely see endorsements from companies in India’s booming industry unless they work for these companies themselves. Even in the case that they are working, they consequently have little time to train. Furthermore, they probably won’t be seeing money from Stephen Colbert anytime soon.
However unfortunate the situation may be, Indian athletes have hope-in the railroad industry. In the article â€œIn India, Many Top Athletes Work on the Railroadâ€ by Elliot Hannon of the New York Times, the Indian Railways is providing Indian athletes a secure income that supports their athletic endeavors and a flexible work schedule that allows athletes to train (no pun intended, Click Here). The Indian Railways even sets aside jobs specifically for top athletes to give them opportunities to represent their country. They give them this support in exchange for their hard work in their respective sports. And in the off chance that one of these athletes decides to slack off on the field, they bear the consequence of having to work full time, a slight impediment to their training schedule. When the railway athletes bring home a medal, as a few do in the summer Olympics, they come home to bonuses and promotions rather than endorsement deals and advertisement opportunities.
Even though the railway is a great chance for athletes to achieve their dreams of becoming an Olympian, I still see the Olympics as a missed opportunity for India. Seeing as the Olympics are a great source of pride for the United States and countries all over the world, why aren’t the Olympics as highly valued in India? The country offers a wealth of amazing athletes in astounding numbers, but how is it that there is so little support for them in a time when India is becoming such an industry giant that’s so heavily focused on improving its economical image?
- Danielle Steussy