The appointment of Salman Khan as the goodwill ambassador of the Indian contingent for the Rio Olympics to be held in Brazil this year is not only a move that serves little purpose but also proves how inferior is our thought process when it comes to the discipline of sports.
It was utterly disappointing to see Salim Khan, Salman's father who tried to defend his son by saying that it is the Bollywood film industry which saved legendary athlete Milkha Singh from fading into oblivion. This remark is insulting for not only Milkha but for all those athletes who have made sacrifices to make the country proud at the world stage. [How Yogeshwar Dutt, Milkha Singh reacted to Salman Khan's appointment as Olympic good will ambassador]
Legends like Milkha Singh don't need artificial goosebumps
Legends like Milkha Singh don't need to live on the artificial goosebumps that the reels of Bollywood produce. If they fade into oblivion, then it proves we are not fit to be a country of sportsmen. Period.
The 80-year-old Milkha, who is best remembered for his missing an Olympic medal by a whisker in the 1960 edition in Rome, had questioned the decision to make Salman Khan the goodwill ambassador, saying why not a sporstperson be chosen for the role, if it is needed at all. He also replied to Salim Khan's 'Bollywood has done a favour to you' saying the film industry did not do him any service by making the film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. [Salim Khan defends Salman Khan as Olympic goodwill ambassador]
These acts and words show how badly we treat our sporting heroes
The appointment of Salman Khan as the goodwill ambassador and the very thinking of Salim Khan show how much indifferent are we towards our sportspersons irrespective of all the hard work they do. This is a country, which despite its consistent mediocre show in the Olympics, hasn't ever bothered about honouring Dhyan Chand, the man who perhaps gave India the first-ever international identity in the sporting arena by helping his team win consecutive golds in hockey. It's almost three decades since his death and we haven't yet felt the urgency to confer him a Bharat Ratna.
This is not to belittle Sachin Tendulkar who pipped Dhyan Chand in the race to get the highest civilian award as the first sportsperson but the hockey wizard, too, deserves a formal recognition like the cricketing legend. [Yogeshwar Dutt bags Rio Olympics berth]
India's fortunes at Olympics have started looking up in recent years and Bollywood has zero contribution in that
India's fortune at the Olympics have begun to look up after a series of dry outings (India was a non-entity between 1980, when it won the final gold medal in hockey and 1996, when Leander Paes brought India's name back into the medal table by winning a bronze in tennis) and its campaign in the last Olympics held in London has been the most successful till date as it reaped six medals in all (two silvers and four bronzes) with a disastrous show in hockey where it got the last position, for the first time.
Picking Sachin as goodwill ambassador could still make some sense but Salman?
This shows that in the era of cricket overdose and decay of hockey, India has started performing in other sports---something which was out of question once. Indians have earned Olympic medals in tennis, badminton, shooting, boxing and wrestling and it is a good sign for the country's sports culture---which is otherwise stagnant.
This year, we are also sending our first woman gymnast to the greatest show on earth in Dipa Karmakar, which is another good news. But all the good work gets ruined the moment you see a Salman Khan representing as the goodwill ambassador for a team of talented individuals who prepare themselves against all odds to compete against the best. Or are these celebrities being roped in now after the sportspersons brought the laurels?
The celebrities are too active in sporting arenas nowadays; can they take a step back and allow the real heroes to get some focus?
The bureaucracy-celebrity nexus has been the biggest threat to this country's sporting future. We have already seen how celebrities, businessmen and bureaucrats are ovweshadowing various sporting disciplines in India. Starting from the Indian Premier League in cricket, now various sports like football, kabaddi, hockey, badminton are being taken over by these people. And even though local talents are getting an exposure, it is the big names that often steal the limelight. How far is India really progressing in terms of sporting quality?
We have enough of Olympic heroes even if all of them are not successful; do we remember them
Returning to Olympics, it is sad that we have conveniently forgotten a number of names that had once become our household names because of the Olympics. Besides Milkha and Dhyan Chand, PT Usha, Anju Bobby George, Limba Ram, Dhanraj Pillai were some of the names that became famous after they represented India at the highest stage.
Not all of them were successful but yet they made us proud. Today, we don't feel to take any of them alongside us to show to the world that we not only aspire to be world beaters but also make our past heroes a part of the current story.
Instead, we choose to give Salman Khan a welcome break in Latin America after a gruelling time in the court.