Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Team India ?

Note: This was written before Chak De! phenomenon hit Indian sports scene. Though much has still remain the same.

I sometimes wonder that why we (the Indians I mean) are not able to pull off grand feats more regularly. Why we don't have a Golden Gate or Hoover Dam or other such megastructures. The last great thing we build was the Taj[1].

Or take for that matter why there has not been any killer-apps[2] from India in this last decade. Or why we are so lousy in our day to day life when it comes to traffic management or project management.

I have this theory which tries to explain some of the reasons. I think an average Indian does not play team sports, much less understand it. By team sports, I mean where team work is the essential component for excellence such as football, hockey and basketball.
For me, there is a cricket team but it still is a limited team sport. On more days, we win because of individual brilliance. Also, the interaction at physical level is very minimal. Its more of an elitist game. Its not as raw as football or hockey where the players not only interact as cohesive force but also have lot of physical proximity. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not trying to propagate an alternate life style or sexual culture. Its just that cricket does not break the divide of untouchability (metaphorically speaking) between players as good as the aforementioned sports.

Indians have excelled in chess. We have made some mark in tennis and badminton and squash. Yes, we used to excel in hockey too. So somewhere we had understood the concept of team only to lose it again.

But my contention is not of the national representation in these sports but at a more individual level. At school or college, most of the kids play cricket. Some of them play other individual sports. Very few play football or hockey. Fewer follow these games.

Blame it on limited resources such as grounds, infrastructure and fundings or just the mind-set. Even in cricket, fielding is boring, it's the batting that is the most glamorous thing. That's were you get recognition, that's where the moolah is.

So what are the consequences, I see that we are not great team players. We don't understand the importance of delegating responsibilities. Of letting the other guy score the goal if I make the right pass. We don't really learn the idea of bigger picture. Because, we are marred by proving our own capabilities even at the cost of the team. On a macro-level, our projects do not complete in time or never complete most of the times. The word quality - it does not apply to us. We don't respect other person's space because me and the other person is never a team. It's always us and them.

Now, I am not suggesting that team sports is a panacea to all the things but certainly, it's certainly a step forward for creating a sense of pursuing common goals and
building communities.

[1] The Taj has ended up in the New 7 wonders of the World. The organization which initiated this IMHO-futile exercise is down with huge losses that it's not doing anything for the great Taj but yeah, we won. Yipeee ! Well, that's another story which does not need to be told.
[2] I think writing software or a new chip design requires very strong teamwork. Especially, in these times. No one person can now a days come up with an outstanding product alone.

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