Moment of shame: Gill must Go

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Well folks, eyes off that hockey field. There shall be no Tricolour there this year.

Updated: March 11, 2008 18:05 IST
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New Delhi:

When the accused are lined up to be handed penalty, I shall be compelled to take my place there. For along with an entire thinking, nay decision-making populace, I too had no thought to spare till black Monday was redefined by the realization that for the first time in 80 years there shall be no Indian hockey team in the Olympics.

I am mortified. I hope over a billion Indians are. Sadly, the man who took upon himself the task of mentoring hockey is not hanging his head. In grief or shame. KPS Gill, Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) chief, says he will not resign. Well, then he must be made to go. He was given a job, he has failed to deliver.

Gill's insouciance is offensive. Some blame for hockey touching the nadir has to be apportioned there. The Indian coach Joaquim Carvalho quit before most Indians had rubbed sleep from their eyes and begun to do so in disbelief over the hockey debacle. Gill must go.

If he will not do it himself, someone has to take the onus of sacking him. Indian sport deserves better. And while we are at it, amend laws to ensure that only sportsmen head sporting bodies. Not politicians or policemen.

Of course, the correction only begins there. For starters, we have to stop playing pretend. Stop paying lip service to a sport we have allowed to wither and die - stop calling it our National Sport. Let's cut our losses, look the other way, continue to pour our money, emotions and attention into cricket. Continue to be obsessed with our cricketing stars, their spats, their hairstyles, their endorsements. Just call cricket our National Sport and be done with it.

For it may take years reverse the wrongs of decades. Takes a Shah Rukh Khan starrer to get an entire nation moist-eyed about hockey. A serendipitous hockey win off-screen is lustily cheered, the film is a hit. Then, we all quickly look away. Reminds us too much of what gross neglect can bring.

It is also true that regardless of the years of apathy, India would begin every Olympic Games with the thought that if nothing else those men with the sticks held out the hope of a medal. In the beginning - for a glorious three decades - gold. Later, any medal. That golden moment of the Moscow games in 1980 would be duly recounted and we would hold our breath for another such reason to cheer.

Well folks, eyes off that hockey field. There shall be no Tricolour there this year. And undoubtedly many more such Olympic years if people like KPS Gill are allowed to get away unscathed.

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