Sportspersons should only be made observers after they leave the game

A graphic showing Mary Kom and Sushil Kumar

ThePrint asks:

Mary Kom and Sushil Kumar have resigned. But is there a conflict of interest in active sportspersons being observers?

There could be any number of reasons behind the resignations of Mary Kom and Sushil Kumar as observers. I don’t know if it is a conflict of interest issue. But I do feel it is best for such a responsibility to be given to people only after they leave the game.

It is not that an active sportsperson cannot be an observer. Ideally, any deserving sportsperson can be appointed, but the problem is one of perception. If active sportspersons are also observers and have a say in the selection process, people may speculate or wonder if we’re pushing for ourselves or our close acquaintances. Questions about conflict of interest are pretty natural.

It is not my place to hazard guesses about what the government has in mind. But observer is an important post, and that’s why everyone would want them to be blemish-free. That’s why such appointments would only make sense post-retirement.

Here are other sharp perspectives on sports observers:

Sushil Kumar, wrestler

As far as the impact of these posts is concerned, I cannot really assess if they have made any impact yet. After all, they were only introduced in March this year, it is too soon to evaluate.

But in terms of potential impact, there is no doubt there are long-term benefits that observers can bring to their respective sports. Being experienced sportspersons, observers can watch all the young boys and girls playing the sport, and can provide constructive feedback. In terms of everything – skills, technique, etc – observers can scrutinise and suggest improvements.

In kabaddi, we have had the perfect example of an observer in Mr Ratan Kumar. He is a retired kabaddi player, and has been a great help to all of us in improving our game.

Anup Kumar is the men’s kabaddi captain of India, and led the team to glory at the 2016 Kabaddi World Cup.


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