Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Olympics and human prosperity

Abhinav Bindra has blown a popular myth or should I say romanticization. The Olympian from India will be this poor person who takes up a sport and against all odds succeeds in getting that gold medal for India. Thanks Abhinav. He has proved a simple point that we chose to ignore, at our own peril, for many years. If you are at the Olympics, it means that you or your country or your sponsors pockets are pretty deep.

The point is that, for making it to something like the Olympics, you have to start early and have specialized equipment and training. There are two (or three) ways in which this way can happen. The prerequisite, almost always is, your talent is spotted early. You grow up in a place that has a private or a public academy. If not the government or sponsor, you spend your own money and put in the long hard hours required for training and come up trumps. During the training period, you need money to sustain yourself, perhaps your family and unless that burden is taken off your head, it is impossible to keep your mind at something as gruelling as the Olympics.

Lets understand this. The Olympics today are a triumph of human prosperity more than anything else. Unless the country is prosperous and/or the government/sponsors invest money in sporting and training facilities, a triumph at the Olympics is as about as probable as alchemy.

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