I refused to see Indian hockey's ultimate ignominy

Hockey has now lost supporters and sympathy. And yet the FIH (the world body) knows that it needs India to sell the sport, simply because we have the eyeballs and the money to support the game

V Krishnaswamy
Published: 11, Aug 2012

V Krishnaswamy, a senior journalist has more than 30 years of experience of covering five Olympics, seven Asian Games, five Commonwealth, scores of World Championships and Majors in different sports, including chess and golf. He is also the author of the recently published “Sachin – Hundred hundreds Now”

Let me place it on record. I did NOT go and watch India’s battle for 11th and 12th place in the Olympic hockey competition on Saturday. But I did make six calls to check the scores, and each time it was upsetting. And then it was all over – 2-3. A sixth loss in six matches and the burden suddenly seemed have been lifted from my not-so-broad shoulders.

For years, in fact from the time I chose Sports Journalism as my profession, the first thing editors told reporters going to major games like Olympics or Asian Games was to look at the hockey schedule. “Check the hockey games and then build your day around it. The big story each day will always be hockey,” they would say. And we would follow it to a letter.

No longer. With the Indian challenge winding up and the Indian hockey team playing to unsuccessfully avoid the wooden spoon, many reporters chose to stay in bed longer than usual. They confessed to waking up at 7.30 am instead of the usual 6.30-7 am (Don’t be surprised, even the laziest of reporters do that at Olympics and Asian Games!) and then some proceeded to pick up souvenirs than pieces of Indian hockey.

To borrow a phrase from Aslam Sher Khan, ‘To Hell with Hockey’ (the title of the book he wrote in 1980s) and just enjoy the Games.

By the way Aslam was here in the first week of the Games – wonder if he is still there – but he didn’t have an accreditation, so I suppose he bought tickets and saw some games and must have rightfully felt that the money had been wasted!

Indian hockey fraternity needed this strong kick (12th place) on the backside. And if this doesn’t wake up the officialdom, nothing ever will. Indian hockey is like a dilapidated house, falling apart and smelling so rotten that you need to hold your nose when you talk about it. Yet there is a bunch of people fighting over it.

Hockey has now lost supporters and sympathy. And yet the FIH (the world body) knows that it needs India to sell the sport, simply because we have the eyeballs and the money to support the game. When Hero, one of India’s biggest sponsors in sports walked in to sponsor the 2010 World Cup and then the FIH Road to Olympics Qualifiers, a new and very reliable hockey sponsor seemed to have been found. The sponsors did not say much, but they did look confused with all the controversies and court cases.

And now with this kind of a nightmarish result, one wonders whether sponsors will come back to hockey. And if they do, one really has to question the wisdom of doing so. Not that hockey is not worth sponsoring, but the idea of a sponsorship is to get back some positive returns. Hockey does not seem to providing that. At least, right now.

For the uninitiated Hockey India is the ‘official’ body and it is planning its own version of Indian Premier League as it happened in cricket. The rival body now is still Indian Hockey Federation, which was originally the national federation, before it was de-recognised by the Indian Olympic Association, whose President, Suresh Kalmadi has more problems on his hands than Indian Hockey.

Since Kalmadi is not around, the IOA has an Acting President, Vijay Kumar Malhotra, who’s own sport Archery was an embarrassment at London. But Kalmadi did come to London to attend the (International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) but was not allowed to come to the Games!

Solving a Times Crossword seems child’s play in comparison to understanding the Indian Hockey and Sports Puzzle.

It seems that we have a coach, Australian Michael Nobbs, who can’t get his players to play the way he wants. Or maybe the players think they know better than him.

I, for one, can’t understand, who is right. Maybe neither!

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