Thursday, September 15, 2011

Indian Hockey Team Rejects Prize Money; Indian Cricket To Blame?

Indian hockey The Indian hockey team refused the prize money after winning the Asian Champions Trophy

Even as the winning Indian hockey team returned home to a hero’s welcome, controversy and Indian hockey have not be able to separate in recent times. Now so-called greed on the part of the Indian hockey players is being blamed on the precedent set by Indian cricket.

Players of the Indian hockey team rejected Hockey India’s cash prize of Rs.25000 each for winning the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy by beating Pakistan in the final by a penalty shootout 4-2. However, the return of the Indian hockey team was met first with garlands and later by brickbats from the players over what they term as insufficient incentive.

Indian hockey is supposed to the national sport. However, it has become quite apparent that cricket, not hockey, is the popular sport in the country. With cricket’s popularity, mass appeal and the clout of the BCCI, cricket in India has also attracted sponsorships, mega multi million endorsement deals as also, huge broadcasting deals that have elevated cricket in terms of its financial clout not only in the country but also, across cricket playing nations.

It is only natural that the effects were going to trickle down to the Indian cricketers. Today the players that make the Indian cricket team enjoy million dollar endorsements, retainers from the BCCI as well as IPL money that has made cricketers some of the richest men in the country and also, subsequently upscaled their lifestyle.

With the kind of precedent that is being set where the BCCI is spinning money and the Indian cricketers have garnered their clout, the kind of money they have received as rewards from the BCCI alone have soared in the crores. With lakhs of rupees worth cash prizes from various state associations as well as land deals, the cricketers have netted a bonanza, particularly when they won the ICC World Twenty20 and more recently, the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.

The kind of money rolling in cricket, particularly more so amongst the BCCI and the Indian cricketers, has led to a great deal of scrutiny as well as the sociological study of how the trend is skewing the lines as far as Indian sport is concerned. The perception has largely grown that the Indian cricket is spoilt for riches and when the Indian cricket team fails to rise to the challenges as it has on the tour of England, questions have been asked if the Indian cricket team is motivated enough with money not being a huge incentive anymore.

Perhaps it is the comparison that is killing the poor cousins in India. Some of the senior hockey players have questioned whether the amount announced as reward for the Indian hockey team would fetch anyone anything substantial. Dubbing the money as too paltry, the players have rejected it altogether even as the Indian government, through the Sports Minister led by Ajay Maken, has come out to state while the Indian government has not announced any prize of its own, it had already spent about Rs.7 crores on the hockey team in the last seven months, and with some quarters indirectly hinting that greed was consuming the Indian hockey players after looking at their cricket counterparts in the country.

There has been a great deal of turmoil within the Indian hockey set up wherein there has been a battle between several authorities over power struggle to rule hockey administration in the country. However, the Indian hockey players are unwilling to buy into the idea that a cash crunch is the cause of their meager prizemoney. Instead they insist that if this is the trend then cricket may well attract the youth to take up the sport while Indian hockey will die a slow, silent, painful death.


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