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Is the trend of showering cash prizes on athletes helpful?

Is the trend of showering cash prizes on athletes helpful?

Proma Sanyal

Updated: 20 Dec 2021 10:15 AM GMT

The party is over, officially. But what a party it was. Teenagers, veterans alike brought down top seeds and upcoming stars to push India up to number three in the medals tally at the end of the Commonwealth Games. India won gold with a petite Mirabai Chanu lifting 110 kg over her 48 kg body. The next day Biren Singh, chief minister of Manipur declared an award of 15 lakhs to the 23-year-old weight lifter. The BJP minister also declared 15 lakhs to Sanjitha Chanu, who also won gold in weightlifting.

The gold medals kept coming over the next few days and Satish Shivalingam of Tamil Nadu was earmarked for a 50 lakh award by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister of Edappadi K. Palaniswamy. India's star Table Tennis performer Manika Batra who bagged golds, silvers, and bronzes was announced to receive 14 lakhs from the Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia of the Aam Aadmi Party. Andhra boy Venkat Rahul Ragala who also won gold in weightlifting is going to be awarded 30 lakhs by the Andhra Chief Minister Chadrababu Naidu after his stellar performance.

Beside these individual achievers of these states are athletes from states like Haryana who have decidely done better than other athletes from the rest of India. There have been as many as nine gold medalists from Haryana and the Haryana government has decided to show their generosity without much hesitation.

The nine gold medalists will be awarded 1.5 crores each, as announced by the Haryana Sports minister Anil Vij, while on the other hand the Maharashtra Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a sum of 50 lakhs each for Madhurika Patkar, Sanil Shetty, Chirag Shetty, Pooja Sahasrabuddhe, and Heena Sidhu. In the coming days, these instances are expected to increase manifold.

While the trend we can see is that of state governments announcing cash prizes to champions returning home with medals, there are instances that are pointing to the fact that the trend stops with the announcement. Only recently, Harmeet Desai took to Twitter to say that the Gujarat government had not paid him the promised 1 crore for bringing home gold but had instead, paid him only 33 lacks since the event was a team event.

ALSO READ: Harmeet Desai calls out Gujarat gov over cash prize

Moreover, Harmeet, who was also a bronze medalist at the CWG, did not get the reward of 25 lakhs that the Gujarat government promises to CWG bronze medalists.

How fair is the twitter tantrum?

Following a report on Harmeet's disappointment, another CWG medallist took to Twitter, his tone on the verge of amusement, and commented on The Bridge's post to notify that while Harmeet was complaining about being given only a third of the promised amount, the Kerala government had not made any promises at all.

The complaint of Harmeet also seems to have created a buzz of divided opinion on social media. While a large chunk of Twitterati lent support to the paddler regarding his demand, quite a large chunk of people called Harmeet out instead of being too entitled. A lot of people are of the opinion that athletes in India play for the sake of cash prizes and that is a trend that very few countries follow in the first place. A popular opinion is that instead of showering already established athletes with more money, especially huge sums of it, it is more important to spend the money on a holistic development of the sport itself.

Another opinion regarding Harmeet's complaint is that instead of complaining about not receiving 1 crore for a team event, he ought to be grateful for the amount of money that has already and is constantly being spent on him and other athletes that have enabled them to reach this stature of stardom in the first place.

While it is true that sports fans who like to go beyond the realm of mainstream cricket and football, have often raised their voices for supporting athletes which lack a lot of corporate backing, it is also to be noted that only days before the Indian contingency left for the Gold Coast, gymnast Aruna Budda Reddy's coach's family was on the brink of being washed out after coach N Brij Kishore was diagnosed with cancer and had no money to fall back on. Coaches like Brij Kishore who have spent their entire life creating champions in associations like the SAI, retire with no security and rarely does the government step up to do anything to lessen the burden of the family.

Therefore, in the future, we hope that while acknowledging the champions with cash prizes, the different governments also look at the larger picture and invest in more avenues.

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