Why is technology in sport needed in India?
We are well aware of India’s failure to produce quality athletes of note in various sports, despite so much promise being shown at the junior and U-19/U-23 levels. All the more baffling is that a country of 1.3 billion-plus fails to find talent that can bring it much pride in various international sports.
Instead, the country’s sports fans watch as the likes of the USA, China, Australia, and the UK race ahead in terms of achievements and international success in all disciplines and events.
How do these nations remain competitive, and hence, near the top of every sporting event/tournament they partake in? By adopting the best available technology in biomechanics, data collection, and data analysis. These countries have attained so much success globally, which begs the question: Has India really fully adopted the game-changer that is sports technology to help it take the next step and become a leader in world sport?
Even a decade and a half ago, it would have been hard to find any Indian side, be it nationally or internationally, connected to anything technology-related. Such was the aversiveness of India and its people to using technology for anything more than daily communication and earning their living that it seemed that all the economic growth and rise up the ladder of various ranking indexes would amount to nought because of this hesitation.
Fast forward to the 2010s, and the acceptance and adoption of technology where and when needed, albeit at a slow pace, has seen the sport in India tentatively stare at a brighter future. It helps that perhaps the most famous, and maybe most successful, sporting export from the country since the turn of the century, the men’s cricket team, has adopted science to help them in their quest to corner as much glory as possible.
However, many other popular sports have lagged behind in terms of adopting technology, thus leaving them even farther behind the competition that already has a head start of a few paces, let alone steps. It must be mentioned that sports associations are slowly coming around to this idea, but this is still a disappointingly slow process, despite the many examples of success it can help reap if appropriately implemented.
There is a reason countries like the US are always ahead of the curve, and that is because of their willingness to adopt and adapt to maintain their place at the head of the table. They follow a hearty mixture of technological advancements and healthy practices like video analysis, athlete recovery systems, athlete management systems, dietary requirements, and training-related gear and accessories. This has ensured they are always one step ahead to ensure their athletes get the best exposure and aid from technology required to help in their rapid development into world-beaters.
It is also a matter of concern that age-old ‘cultural practices and traditions, which no longer have a place in modern sport, are still followed by athletes and federations in India. This trend further hampers any progress that can be made while also ensuring a rigid mentality that prevents the adoption of the best techniques required to succeed at the highest levels of sport.
What is really needed is for increased investment in sports technology, infrastructure, technical thinking/knowledge, and the best methods to be wholly adopted by those in charge, and the athletes. What is also needed is to bring in investment from private players to create an ecosystem where the government, its various bodies, and the corporate sector work together, at their discretion when needed, to develop sports technology and infrastructure in India.
After all, sports are the backbone of sports technology. If the former grows, so does everything around it.