India is one of the fastest developing countries in the world and there is more than one parameter to solidify this fact than just looking at the GDP. One of the many factors is people’s perceptions about living standards and career options for future generations. Sport certainly qualifies in that perspective. People in a more developing country have the freedom of pursuing a career, freedom of following their passion without carrying any burden. A few years back a kid would have been excused if he would have asked to pursue a career in a sport that he loves to play. But the situation is changing and more kids are now into the sport than at any other time in the history of Indian sport. But there are only a handful of socially less-conservative parents who lets their kids pursue a career in the sport.
There is no doubt that people’s perception of Sports has changed for the good in the last decade or so. But the numbers are bright only for the upper-middle-class or upper class. Most of the time, when a kid approaches his parents and tells them that he wants a career in the sport, we know what happens in a middle-class family, Sport is still Drake’s fortune for the poor, there is no need for an Einstein approach here to guess the reply, most probably the answer is a straight “No”. Is this good to crush a budding talent and deny India a potential winner? You may argue that pursuing study is a very safe option but winners don’t emerge from the safe havens, they are molded by the danger of missing out on a safe option, their character is made from the risk of trodding on a less trodden path. But we are not talking about any “Dennis the Menace” kid who just loves to play because he doesn’t like books. We are talking about a kid who aspires to be a sportsperson and a kid who possesses a special talent. So why force him to take a different path from the one which he was destined to follow.
Consider a simple situation- A kid shows an affinity for Lawn Tennis and follows the game passionately and plays quite decently in his school competitions. Now the typical parents come to know about his ardent passion and ask him to focus more on his studies. The poor kid, in order to escape the wrath of his parents, leans away from his passion and we know what happens after that. Don’t you think this is movie stuff and we still curse those who press the “crush the dream” button in the movie? Why double-standards?
Why do parents act like that and why the society backs that person with ease? Do the parents know everything about the future of their kids? Nobody really knows what will happen in his future. He may get good marks and may get a good job but where are the satisfaction and the peace. He may curse you or blame you for his dissatisfaction and you live only once. So why become a reason for destroying a life? There will be nobody in this world who can understand his pain of not following his dream, the pain and the sorrow of watching a player playing his favorite game and grasping all the glory. The parents, the so-called protector, now become the real culprit of destroying a precious dream. What if he may have not won Wimbledon or any other grand slam, in fact, no Indian player has ever won a grand slam in a single event. If the parents consider the money factor then there is enough money at the ATP tour for the players who are talented enough to play regularly. You get around £35,000 for just making the 1st round of Wimbledon and that’s around 30,00,000 rupees. Hack of money for sure but it’s a tough ask to even qualify for the grand slams. But we are talking about talent, and the talent needs to work hard to achieve his dream. So we expect the talented player to hit at least a minimum level in his professional career. Less-known players like Yuki Bhambri and Vishnu Vardhan are earning good money to sustain a certain standard and that’s way better than the middle-class family.
Before shutting the door for your talented kid, you need to understand the difference between a talent and a mere passion. A passion for something may be short-lived and at some point, the passion may vanish or the person starts to crave some other thing and as a result, another thing becomes his passion. So the parents who foresee this situation and force their kid towards study are damn right and have just taken the best decision for their precious child’s future.
I would like to highlight here a special case of Australian Tennis player Bernard Tomic. There is no doubt that he is a very very talented player. But he has lost his love for Tennis and after he was ousted in the 1st round of Wimbledon he admitted that Tennis no longer motivates him. “It was definitely a mental issue out there. I felt a little bit bored, to be completely honest with you. It’s tough, you know. I’m 24. I came on tour on 16, 17. I have been around and feel like I’m super old but I’m not. I’m still 24 and it was tough to find motivation out there”, he said during his interview after he was knocked out in the 1st round at Wimbledon. When he made his ATP debut, he was hailed as the best male Tennis player that Australia produced since the legendary Rod laver. It’s the special case of “Talent without a passion”. Without a shadow of any doubt, he is wasting his Talent as was declared publicly by Belgium’s Tennis legend Kim Clijsters after his shock Wimbledon exit.
Now consider another situation, where a person has a passion for a game but lacks any talent i.e. “Passion without Talent”. That’s a very soft and delicate issue. What should the parents do with a kid who has developed too much passion for a particular sport? He should be given at least a chance to shine. There are innumerous athletes who outshone the more talented athletes due to their sheer hard work. Some athletes develop a passion for more than one sport.
Then there are other athletes who were born for the sports. AB De Villiers is a prime example of this. He was an outstanding athlete and was one of the fastest sprinters in his school days. He also captained his football team. But he chose Cricket over everything else because his passion for cricket was more superior to any other thing. Manchester United legend Phil Neville was also a good Cricket player but chose Football because his passion for football was bigger than his love for cricket. They were talented and worked hard for their passion and are now considered as one of the best players in their respective sports.
The most ideal situation is the passion with talent and there is nothing that can stop him from achieving great things if he puts in enough hard work. Of course, their parents’ decision will remain the turning point in his life that can shape his very future.
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