Once sports were only for individual recreation. But sports have now become professional all over the world. Men who have become proficient in certain games and sports are now using their talent as a sure means of earning a livelihood. Since the sport has an impressive appeal, people are naturally willing to pay to become a witness to an exhibition of the athlete’s skill or strength. The footballer, the cricketer, the tennis player, even the boxer and the wrestler have the scope of earning a livelihood by displaying their talent as the dancer or the actor or the musician or any other artiste’ may have such an opportunity.
There is nothing wrong with this tendency. Surely a man has as much right to make a living by his brawn as he has by his brains. Professional sportsmen spend much time and labour in practice to acquire proficiency just as people of any other profession do. Hence it is quite reasonable if they try to use their skill to earn a profit.
Yet the professional sportsmen were not regarded with much honour in comparison to intellectual professionals in the past. Being non-intellectual they were relegated to an inferior category. These prejudices, of course, are now dying out. Today professional sportsmen are now paid lumpsum amounts in accordance with their skill. And they add to the prestige of clubs or countries aided by the promoters. The conferring of a knighthood on the English Footballer Stanley Matthews has removed the last stigma on professionalism in sports. Now we see Sachin Tendulkar in India has been awarded the Baharat Ratna as one of the best cricketers in the world.
Some pose a question about the utility of sports as a profession. Men cannot be bound all the time to their duties in office and factory or in other working fields. They need some outdoor recreations too. It is good to fill the galleries of a stadium and witness exhibitions of strength and skill of professional sportsmen in a thrilling encounter. Who will deny the social utility of these recreations? The professional sportsman who plays to provide entertainment of the spectators really stands on the same level as the professional musician, dancer, or actor does to the audience.
Nowadays there are various ways of earning profit for a professional sportsman. Besides his income in professional line, he poses for advertising meant and participates in cinema or television reels, and thereby he earns a good amount. A cricketer often plays with a logo shirt on him and with the bat or cap bearing the mark of a reputed firm to earn more profit.
However, there are some abuses in professional sports. Those who are parasites of sports, the bookies for example, or the so-called ‘promoters’, are the real villains in the world of sports, especially in cricket. They earn an undue and undeserved middleman’s profit. They have to be ruthlessly eliminated. The Olympics and Wimbledon Tennis do not recognize professional sportsmen or players. But in cricket, there is one class of so-called sportsmen who promote betting and make money out of the spirit of gambling that a capitalistic society encourages. They also tempt and try to corrupt other players. Recently, Srisant in the Indian cricket team has been suspended lifelong for such abuses in the field of sports. We can remember a word in Sachin’s speech in his farewell to cricket that his father advised Pol him to chase dreams, but not to take any short cut for achieving the dream.