Warren Buffett was famously quoted as saying ldquo;hellip;I still believe in the philosophy hellip; that a very rich person should leave his kids enough to do anything but not enough to do nothing.rdquo;nbsp;
The last part of what Buffett said – one must be given enough money to do anything but not enough to do nothing – is what I am talking about in the context of our Olympic medalists.nbsp;
When Abhinav Bindra came home after winning the 2008 Olympics Gold medal he was awarded 220000 from Mittal Champions Trust 74000 by the Central Government 37000 by the government of Haryana 37000 by the Board of Control for Cricket in India 22000 by Steel Ministry of India 16000 by the government of Bihar 15000 by the government of Karnataka 15000 by S. Amolak Singh Gakhal Chairman Golds Gym 15000 by Chief Minister of Maharashtra 7400 by the government of Orissa 7400 by Government of Tamil Nadu 1500 nbsp;by the nbsp;government of Chattisgarh 1500 by the nbsp;government of Madhya Pradesh a free lifetime railway pass by the Railway Ministry and 22000 nbsp;by Pune Municipal Corporation. nbsp;
Saina Nehwal for her Bronze at the 2012 London Olympics got overall 313000 from Haryana Rajasthan Andhra Pradesh nbsp;and the Badminton Association of India put together. She is the brand ambassador of Sahara India Pariwar and endorsed Herballife Top Ramen Noodles Fortune Cooking Oil NECC Indian Overseas Bank Vaseline and Yonex. She had signed an endorsement deal worth Rs. 400 million with the popular sports management firm Rhiti Sports in 2012 after her Bronze win. She severed this in 2013 and signed up with KWAN entertainment and marketing solutions for an undisclosed sum.nbsp;
Like her Gagan Narang and Mary Kom got richer by millions. I am not concerned if they were getting richer. But did we give them enough to do nothing? Is it that our sportspersons lack the character of Michael Phelps to keep on winning even after winning loads of cash prizes and endorsements?
Footballer Ferdinand feels that his wealth would count for nothing without the numerous honours including five Premier League titles and a Champions League winners’ medal that he has achieved in his years at United.
ldquo;People talk about money and all the stuff that goes on around football but to me it just comes back to winningrdquo; he said.
Is it that for us sports is a mean to go to a stage where you get to secure your future and the matter ends there? Is it all about a government job loads of cash land and a car? Is it that coming back to win again is not something that we are trained to believe in? Well seeing the spirit of P V Sindhu Sakshi Malik and Deepa Karmakar it is hard to believe that they are of such mindset. But somehow our history tells us otherwise.
It was only yesterday that big headlines reported Sindhu had been offered multiple deals worth Rs 50 crore for a period of three years. Reports suggested that the 21-year-old has finalized a deal with a sports marketing entertainment and brand licensing firm known as Baseline Ventures.
Sindhu returned home from the 2016 Olympics with a Silver Medal to find herself being loaded with cash prizes. Rs 5 crore and a plot of land from the government of Telangana; Rs 3 crore a Group A cadre job and a 1000 sq. yd. plot from the government of Andhra Pradesh; Rs 2 crore from the government of Delhi; Rs 75 lakh from Bharat Petroleum Corporation with promotion from assistant to deputy manager; Rs 50 lakh from the government of Haryana; Rs 50 lakh from the government of Madhya Pradesh; Rs 50 lakh from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports; Rs 50 lakh from Badminton Association of India Rs 50 lakh from NRI Businessman M Sebastian; Rs 30 lakh from the Indian Olympic Association; Rs 5 lakh from All India Football Federation one BMW car each from the Hyderabad District Badminton Association and Sachin Tendulkar; Rs 1.01 lakh from Salman Khan and a miniature diamond and gold racket from Kirtials.
Sakshi Malik who won a bronze got multiple cash prizes totaling over Rs.5.7 crore from Indian Railways the Indian Olympic Association the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports the government of Delhi various state governments including Haryana Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh from private bodies such as JSW Group and from political groups including the Indian National Lok Dal. She has also been promoted to gazetted officer rank by her employer Indian Railways and has got Class 2 job offer and 500 sq yd plot from the government of Haryana.
The problem is that this is the same country where before Deepa Karmakar got into the finals of the Olympics she trained with a vault made of old scooter parts nbsp;and used a marriage hall for her practice before the Olympics. Even her request for the presence of her physical therapist Sajad Ahmed was deemed wasteful by the authorities. He was rushed to Rio to keep her in optimum shape only after she qualified for the finals. Our governmentsrsquo; authoritiesrsquo; respect for and trust in our sportspersons is negligible. We do not spend a penny to search for talent out and we are loath to spend till a person does well on his or her own. nbsp;It’s only when someone brings home glory that we load them with cash prizes to bask in their glory.
We have heard stories of champions who had to sell their medals to make both ends meet. The kind of money each state government is spending on every winner nbsp;would have helped many retired sportspersons who got nothing except scorn and neglect. nbsp;
It is fair enough that sportspersons should be paid well but is it that they require such mammoth sums of money to lead decent lives? How many qualified professionals in their own fields of expertise would earn anything close to such sums after toiling for their entire career? What should be called enough in a country like this?
Sachin Tendulkar would have done a lot of good had he spent the cost of the BMWs he gifted in searching for and nurturing another Deepa Sindhu or Sakshi. There are thousands of young boys and girls whorsquo;d show their mettle if they could get proper meals and nourishment. nbsp;Will it take much? People who thought Deepa was doing a dangerous thing at the Olympics by attempting the Produnova vault now know she had danced with death while practicing it at home on her makeshift apparatus.
Michael Phelps the great US swimmer used the money he got by winning the 2008 Olympics medals to set up a foundation to focus on growing the sport of swimming. In 2010 the Michael Phelps Foundation the Michael Phelps Swim School and KidsHealth.org developed and nationally piloted the ldquo;imrdquo; program for boy and girl members. The ldquo;imrdquo; program teaches children the importance of being active and healthy with a focus on the sport of swimming. It also promotes the values of planning and goal-setting. The Foundation has since developed two other programs Level Field Fund-Swimming and Caps-for-a-Cause.
Here then is someone who has made use of his money to bring up more Phelps. Do we have someone here who will take up this responsibility with the money that they got? It’s another thing that prizes and money didnrsquo;t make Phelps lose his motivation to win more medals.nbsp;
And what do governments of the five top medal winning nations pay to their champions? Russia pays 60000 China 31400 25000 Germany 19500 and the United Kingdom nothing at all. These are the countries that value their players gives them respect and of course enough to do anything at all in pursuit of excellence. In India we oblige the sportspersons with loads of cash to make them forget the treatment that was meted out to them before they became champions. No wonder the struggles of many Deepa Karmakars and Lalitha Babars will continue because we know the price of everything but value of nothing.
The writer is an independent Mumbai-based documentary film-maker.