Thursday, January 18, 2018
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all work no play

What a contrast between the school children of today and those of yesterday ! The same can be said, by and large, for the youth as well. In the olden era sports and studies went hand in hand. I am told that when the British were ruling, their officers would go round the premises to see if there was any employee staying beyond time.

Whenever they found any one sitting with files open even at 5pm, the closing time, they used to scold him and order him to go out on the field and play volley-ball or badminton or hockey and football. They would say, ‘If you can’t complete your work by 5pm, you never will.’

In schools too there used to be so much emphasis on sports. It used to be compulsory for boarders to go out in the evening on the hockey or football fields after class. If you recall, in the olden days our city used to be very busy with sports competitions at the college and the university levels Today AU’s cricket field is a picture of neglect. But  decades ago we would witness Inter-Varsity matches here.  One would find the play grounds  over-packed with spectators as they would watch a crucial hockey or football game. Some might even recall Prof S.K.Rudra running around the field, asking spectators  not to cross the line of demarcation.

Today there are no such thrills any more. All games are mostly watched on TV . And now they are watched at one’s convenience.  Those not present when the running commentary is on, have the whole thing taped and view it late at night after returning from delayed office work or a late party.And what do our school children mostly do ? They are rushed to school almost in their sleep. Some of them can be seen munching a sandwich in a rickshaw. After school, it is tuition time. Some go to attend coaching classes – separate ones for different subjects. The lad returns thoroughly exhausted. His parents want him to top. So all physical exercises or games are ignored! It is not realized that for a healthy mind a healthy body is essential

In the past, children were seeing playing in ‘muhalla’ fields. But those small fields have completely disappeared and in their places suffocating multiplexes have appeared.  The child does not feel the urge to look for a sports field. His aim is to fulfil his parents’ ambition of topping in class and thereafter succeeding in some competitive examination. In the absence of a balanced growth between the body and the mind we have ended up by producing neither very many toppers in all-India examinations nor top players in sports. If we look back, Allahabad used to produce a big crop of IAS officers which, in keeping with the population ratio, was on the higher side. We also had brilliant hockey and football players, some of whom were of national ranking. The BHS  also took a big initiative by starting the gym on the campus itself. That has been showing encouraging results. But what about the lack of facilities at the grassroots level? We have to create an urge among children for sports.

I do not know how far it is possible. But let the UP Board have Sports as one of the compulsory subjects on the syllabus. If this is done and attendance on the sports field made compulsory, with marks fixed, the result could be encouraging. And if in practicals, distinction marks are given to those who are medal winners, it would motivate the children to rush for games. That  way the sleeping potential of many a future sportsman would flower into award-winning excellence. Just as there are coaching institutes for various subjects, so too there would be  coaching centres for  students studying sports . It would be delightful to see gymnasiums packed with children, fields buzzing with sports activities. Today, youngsters pass away their idle time in the evenings in recreations that raise eye-brows of the puritans. But can we blame them ? If we set before them the one and only goal of materialism, if we spread the culture that to have as many bikes and cars is more important than hitting out centuries or  scoring a hat-trick of goals then how will we produce  athletes ? How will we produce outstanding cricketers, hockey and football players ?  We might still be doing well in badminton. But what about other games ? Mohammad Kaif  certainly brought laurels to the city. But one swallow does not make a summer.We must revive the sports culture. We must lay stress on physical training in schools, colleges and the University. Not for nothing has it been said, ‘ All work,  no play  makes Jack a dull boy’.

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