“The non-permanent appearance of happiness and distress, and their disappearance in due course, are like the appearance and disappearance of winter and summer seasons. They arise from sense perception, and one must learn to tolerate them without being disturbed” – (Bhagavad Gita, 2.14)
The media is going gaga over the India under 19 cricket team’s world cup victory. For a nation that is bereft of notable achievements in any sport, being crowned as world champions in a sport that hardly a dozen countries on the planet are passionate about is a poor consolation. Indeed for the billion plus success starved Indians, any sporting success on the international scale seem to boost up their self-worth, even if it means slaughtering young talent. Now is the time to act more responsibly and maturely by nurturing our talent, rather than make demigods out of young teenagers whose life and career challenges have only just begun. The world cup victory is a sign that we have talent, and we should protect, nurture and encourage this talent.
As wild celebrations and partying engulf our consciousness, and as accolades and monetary rewards are showering upon the teenagers, the tiny but deep voice of spiritual leadership pleads them to be realistic and remain grounded. Mature leadership trains younger talent not to be swayed by the razzle- dazzle of success; it’s after all a temporary glitter.
The virtue of sobriety
Life often throws up unpleasant surprises and fortunes change overnight. If one remains sober during success, knowing this to be a part of individual growth and learning, he also remains equipoised and strong during sudden reversals and crisis. As Bishan Singh Bedi, the former Indian test captain feared, “they are at a very impressionable age, and I hope they don’t end up with swollen heads.” Success often blinds people to harsh realities and we forget that life will go on and innumerable challenges will come. At such times, when faced with occasional failure, one who is attached to success, now falters and gets depressed. His sense of identity is challenged; therefore during any success one needs to have control over his emotions, and not lose focus from
If one remains grounded and focussed on his goals even during the fleeting, temporary successes of life, he’d for sure sail through smoothly during the rough weathers.
A critical leadership role is to train and encourage young talent. Now is the time to monitor these young world champions and encourage them as they make the painful transition from the junior to the senior level. Life at the senior level is going to get tougher and the tremendous pressure can extract a heavy toll on their consciousness. Handling failures at this level can be exasperating as the demands are much greater. Not surprisingly, may youngsters who were part of the previous two world cup winning side have
lost their way and today they do not even figure in the state teams for first- class cricket. M. Tripathi, Siddharth Kaul, Ajitesh Argal, and Gaurav Jathar are a few of the former teen stars who have now faded away when pushed into the realistic challenges at the senior level.
This is the time for sports leaders to do serious soul searching; what legacy are we leaving behind for the younger generation to emulate? Are we going to honour them one day and forget them the next day or are we going to nurture them to do well in life? Even if they don’t make it into big time sports, let them lead a happy and meaningful life. After all there’s more to life than success and failure on a cricket field. However, if the youngsters are to believe that success in sports is all in all, that could cause havoc in their mental make-up; they wouldn’t be able to reconcile to the recurring challenges and obstacles in their lives.
A key responsibility of leadership at all levels is to leave a legacy of strong values; not to promote temporary, glittering success as the culmination of all our endeavours. By showering monetary rewards and gifts, the sports leadership is drawing the teenagers towards money, rather than nobler deeds at the next level. Let us not lose the young talent in the sea of wild celebrations; rather let us train and empower the younger generation to bring glory to sport, the nation and humanity by internalizing exemplary virtues and displaying proper character both on and off the field. Then the lives of both sportsmen and the leaders are successful. And that’s the legacy the leaders are expected to leave behind.