Scouting for reports about the All India Inter-University Athletic Championship which happened in Kochi in my Google reader feeds from our esteemed English media, I stumbled upon the usual sales statistics of liquor from Kerala.
These statistics crop up quite often these days and that too if any religious festivals has gone by. And this time, it was Christmas and definitely Keralites would have gulped down quite a lot of liquor on this occasion.
The recession or talks of floundering capitalism has not bated the urge for liquor among keralites. This time around for Christmas, the Kerala State Beverages Corporation did business worth a whopping 55 crores. You can read the related details about this dubious distinction here.
Dubious are not exactly the distinctions Kerala create, but some of them are grand enough, that they need to be celebrated. One among them is surely the meticulously organized (by Indian standards!) 69th edition of the All India Inter-University Athletic Championship.
This is the first time in its history that an All India Inter-University Athletic Championship has happened under flood lights, making the whole sporting extravaganza (If you would call it one. For me, it is definitely an extravaganza as it is an opportunity to see the future of India in athletics!) a bit more accessible to the normal crowd.
The media in Kerala as always buzzed quite a lot about this event. I saw news specials and discussions about the meet and the athletes who were part of this event. Needless to say our national media hardly bothered to talk about this event where hosts of athletes of tantamount importance to our future expressed their abilities.
If you have any feeling that this event is of no importance, then you should be told about the participation numbers. Reports claim nearly 2500 athletes from 32 universities where in the fray and if you still would call it a small affair, better dont read further.
Universities from Kerala hogged the limelight as Calicut University grabbed the overall championship and Kannur University finished runner-up with five golds, two silver and three bronze. Besides, Calicut and Kannur had lifted the Men’s and Women’s team titles respectively.
It is not quite a surprise that Kerala Universities ran away with the titles. The enthusiasm and the importance these championship have among the general public could be well seen in the daily news coverage by the media.
Public which includes me are really keen to know, if Tintu Luka could muster a gold or could Mayookha Johny break her meet record.
While we whimper about the national media which rarely cross the boundaries to report about sports other than cricket, the media in Kerala deserves kudos for springing up with good reports and coverages about these meets. Without them no one would have ever heard about Mayookha Johny or Tintu Luka.
While Milkha Singh occasionally appears in the national media during the time of Olympics as a retired sprinter and makes his comments, P.T. Usha is all over Malayalam Media while these events occur as she is the official mentor of Tintu Luka and her school of athletics always manages to field some good athletes, be it the inter-university or state schools athletics meet. No where in India will a former athlete garner this kind of attention.
The attention and the scrutiny offered by media has helped Kerala Athletics for a long time now. Media has always helped the athletes and sports in general by their imperative reporting and taking up issues that usually send the sporting structure in to shambles, as it happens in other parts of India.
When 69th edition of the All India Inter-University Athletic Championship started, all I knew was about some Kerala athletes and the former champions in this meet. I was wondering why there are no Punjabi Universities setting fire to the track.
Maybe the distance was too much for them to travel down and establish their supremacy or the situation of university level athletics is pathetic there (I generally had high opinion about Punjab as a sporting state and i was immensely impressed after I visited Punjab University in Chandigarh. Now I am perplexed!).
When the championship was on, I tuned in to Malayalam news every other day to track the progress of the event where as our national media except, The Hindu, in their Kerala edition was quiet and they went on blathering about the England - India test series and about Saina Nehwal who returned to India without any reception from an International event (Not undermining her importance!).
While the journo hacks in the media doesn't mince a word while criticizing the government and related officials about the dismal state of Indian sports, they are well forgetting their duties about an in depth coverage of our sports scene. They indulge in orgies which earn them their orgasm—TRP ratings.
They should come out and start helping sports in the grass root levels than delivering “disgusting” rhetoric about the system. I was indeed very happy with the over all coverage the meet received in the Malayalam media and on a positive note, I expect this to draw more athletes in to sports which eventually would help India in becoming a great sporting nation.
Note: Many of these athletes who make a mark during these events fizz out later. Some of them give sterling performances with the aid of performance enhancers as said here. Some due to pressure from different aspects of life will settle for a public sector job after all their efforts. Some do turn out to be great, P.T. Usha is one among them.
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