Credibility in Sports

Sports had always been a source of inspiration for people, who don’t just see it from a mere entertainment or a hobby perspective. They see sports as a medium, which unifies people and which transcends regional, religion, and even national boundaries. And at the root of all these things, is a firm belief that everything that happens in a sporting arena is real. But when the very belief is shaken by the growing number of scandals, sports tend to lose credibility. When sports loses its credibility, those passionate people lose a part of themselves. 

Sports persons have always been a role model for young people. The one person, who was an inspiration for this era of sports lovers, is Lance Armstrong. The heroic come back of him, after surviving life threatening testicular cancer, had no parallels until then. He inspired not just young healthy people to achieve something but also cancer patients/survivors to create a mark for themselves, just like he did by winning the 7 Tour de France titles. 

But when it was revealed that he won the titles by taking performance enhancing drugs, the revelation shocked everyone, who followed his career and life passionately. Though, his actions inspired a lot of people till the revelation, not many people would find inspiration going forward. He has set himself  to be a good and a worst example. 

The consequence of such actions is that, people would start to become cynical. Cynicism is just as harmful as blind belief. Any legitimate victory by any other Cyclist would be scrutinized from now on. It would be really hard to win back the trust of legions of cycling fans, who thronged to follow the cyclists in various stages of the iconic event. 

The interest in sports of those passionate followers would fade away and even aspiring youngsters would think hard before choosing to become a sports person.

On One end of the spectrum, we have individuals involving in these sort of activities, there by bringing their sports to its knees.  On the other end, we have the administrators of sporting bodies, who themselves bring the downfall of few sports, by setting wrong priorities.

Sports was mostly an amateur activity in the initial days. Players were not considering sports as a profession. As time went by, players did consider sports as a profession and were ready to make a career out of sports. 

But for a sport to become a profession, it requires administrators to administer sporting bodies as professionally as any professional organization would do. Whenever they failed to do so, then the sports tend to lose credibility invariably. One example of such a sporting body,  which failed to run the organization professionally is Board of Cricket Control in India (BCCI).

BCCI is one of the richest sporting organizations in the whole world. And being rich, has its own advantages; BCCI literally dictates the proceedings in World Cricket. And this led to the formation of a cricket league, which was an inspiration from Soccer leagues around the globe. However, the formation of Cricket league had very few cricketing reasons behind it unlike the soccer leagues. 

Even for those few reasons to be justified, the administrators had to take extra care of the sports and its players, failing which sports would become a mockery. And that’s exactly what happened this yearCricket lost its credibility by the very league, which was started by the administrators as a tool to popularize the sport. 

These are just 2 examples from 2 different sports, whose credibility has taken a hit in recent times. There are other sports as well such as Soccer, the Athletics, Baseball and even tennis, were players get involved in doping and clubs involved in match fixing. 

Can this rot be stemmed?  Yes, there would always be a light at the end of the tunnel. A few steps, which could be followed to restore the lost ground are given here.

The first step is to create awareness among players about the consequences of wrongdoing. Anyone found guilty of wrongdoing must be punished severely. Their sports team or their organization must be held accountable for the player’s wrong doing. This would definitely make the organization/board more responsible towards sports and its players.

The second step is to make Doping tests a mandate in all the sports. Players must be chosen at random to undergo doping tests. If found guilty, they must be disqualified from the events for their life time, all their records must be declared invalid, and the player’s prize money should be seized by the sporting body.

Third step is to ask all Sports Organizations/Clubs to be as much transparent as possible. Transparency could make the Sporting Administrators accountable to the fan, who follows the sports and help these organizations sustain.  

The fourth step could be controlling the flow of money into sports. Too much cook spoils the broth, so does too much money spoils the sports. Sponsors are one of the main sources of income to the sports bodies. Sponsors should be carefully chosen and they must also be strictly monitored. 

And the final step should be to educate players from young age and instruct them to see Sports as just a game. This will help them see themselves as just a normal person, whose profession is sports and who takes immense pride in representing their countries rather than see themselves as a large than life persona.

Following the steps mentioned may not eradicate all the evils, but these steps could be sign post for things to follow.

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