The event invariably had a low-profile until the mid-eighties, when the National Games started to grab the attention across the country. The event organized by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) with support from the state Olympic association, Sports Ministry and SAI, desperately needs an image makeover and is struggling to attain that
Barring a few newspapers, most don’t even provide elaborate coverage of the multi-sport extravaganza, and given the sparse media coverage, how can one expect our upcoming youngsters? One has to ask whether the National Games is really a priority for the betterment of Indian sports or is it just a case of going through the motions as if it is being held just for the heck of it.
Several big athletes have given the National Games a miss. Look at some of the Indian shuttlers, who conveniently chose not to attend this event and these players haven’t been penalized by the Badminton Association of India (BAI). The common excuse for these players is that they need adequate rest so that they are fresh for their international commitments or at least the authorities concerned must send a message – loud and clear.
Barring some big names in swimming, shooting and gymnastics, the 35th National Games hasn’t quite seen the who’s who of Indian sports. Of course, the timing of the 35th National Games has to be questioned. With the event held close to the start of the World Cup, it will always be a struggle to see the event get any significant coverage. Look at our hockey players, who are busy playing in the Hero Hockey India League just when they should be representing their respective states in the National Games. It does appear that proper coordination among sports bodies is grossly missing and such a scenario does not really serve anyone’s interest.
It is time the powers-that-be take a hard look of how all big names of Indian sports are compelled to be part of the National Games. That’s the only game this event can raise its profile and attract sponsors so that it becomes a commercial success besides the primary purpose of serving as a handy platform for sportspersons to showcase their skills in their pursuit of excellence.