Mar 15 - 21, 2010

People are told God tests a person by giving or not giving money, implying human behavior or moral values change when a person has too much money as well as when a person is underprivileged. True reflection of this is now evident in sports, the most notorious being cricketers. Previously, bowlers were often accused of ball tempering but the worst display was portrayed by Shahid Afridi. Many acquisitions of match fixing have been proved and players were also imposed huge penalties. Such incidents are on the rise now.

Many disgruntled people say that the term sportsmanship was used in the past to highlight integrity, hard work and discipline of a person. However, now the word has attained a new connotation. Now bookies make captain and/or key members of any team abettors in gambling, to get the agreed outcome, which is termed match fixing. This malpractice was most common in horse racing and jockeys were given huge money to ensure victory or defeat in the race.

In the past sportsmen were not lofty rich, but the tradition of sponsorship has made many sportsmen so rich that their names also appear in the list of richest people of the world. There is no denying the fact that every person must get due return of his/her hard work but when money becomes obsession corruption ramps up blatantly.

Sportsmen are the asset of a country and there is a tradition of rewarding them to encourage the others. It is said that there is only one position at the top and every one works hard to become number one. Some stay there for a longer period but many loose the top position after a while. As the person attaining the top position is rewarded most of all the contenders for this position work hard. At times, the participants are accused of indulging in unfair practices including use of prohibited drugs.

In many of the sports participants are given money to participate in the event as well as the championship awards. In tennis a few players were given participation money which was more than the championship award only because of their copy book strokes. But the worst bidding is done in football clubs globally. Players know that they have limited time because the next incumbent could drive them out.

In Pakistan it is often said many sports have been ruined due to nepotism and brazen disregard to merit. Many senior players do the lobbying for their sons/nephews and often succeed in soliciting a place for them in the national teams. Despite their bad performances they stay in team and most deserving players do not go beyond '12th man'.

The fans have become so irritated by the acts of players that lately a funeral procession of cricket was taken out in Pakistan and the effigies of famous players were burnt in public. However, it may not be wrong to say that fans have very short memories and after a while they again start appreciating these players.

According to a cynic now players have become actors and they perform according to the script given to them by the sponsors and the bookies. These bookies can go to the extent of injuring a disliked player or even assassinate him. This state of affairs prevails because of the involvement of the underworld in sports. They not only create an idol but also smash it for not following their rules of the game.

As players attain international recognition they also face very odd situations. It became very embarrassing for a Muslim player to wear a shirt on which logo of famous liquor brand was printed. Being a Muslim he was not allowed to wear a shirt promoting liquor but the team for which he was playing had a sponsorship with the manufacturer of that world leading brand.

The sponsorship helps in promoting the sports as well as the sportsmen but its rules needs to be monitored and rewritten for ensuring highest level of ethics in sports. Sports bring discipline in the life of sportsmen, if moral values are exterminated society and corporate entities sponsoring the event must do a little heart probing.

Shareholders of the sponsoring companies should also ask the board of directors to review the sponsorship programs. It may not be wrong to request that sponsors should not restrict themselves to a few sports. In different regions of Pakistan people have different preferences. Sponsoring global or national events is good but local events should also be encouraged. Schools, collages, universities and local clubs are like nurseries. They must be clubbed up some money to discover and groom talent. No player should be allowed to get the status of indispensable. People may come and go but business must go on as usual.