The new rules for national sports awards – some issues

It seems that the furor surrounding the choice of Sachin Tendulkar over Dhyan Chand for the prestigious Bharat Ratna has forced the Indian government to look into the criteria that come into play when a sportsperson is selected for an honor in his or her domain on a national scale. As per the new rules, which have been created with the purpose of making the entire procedure a clearer one, a system based on points has been arrived at. The new system states that a sportsperson shall receive 90% weightage on the medals that he or she has claimed in Olympics, Commonwealth and Asian Games.


For every gold medal won in a World Cup or World Championship, one that is held every 4 years the athlete in question shall receive 40 points – for a silver medal they shall receive 30 points and for a bronze medal 20 points will be awarded. As far as the Asian Games are concerned the gold medals shall fetch 30 points each, the silver medals will be worth 25 points and the bronze medals will amount to 20 points. For the Commonwealth Games and any World Cup or World Championship that is held either every year or biennially the points for a gold medal will be 25, a silver medal will be worth 20 points and a bronze medal shall be worth 15 points.


For the Commonwealth and Asian Championships a gold medal shall get 15 points, a silver medal will be worth 10 points and a bronze medal will be equivalent of 7 points. As far as events other than the ones that have been mentioned above are concerned, the selection committee will take a decision on the points that are to be conferred to the individual athletes.


The Sports Ministry has also stated that the athlete with the highest score will be provided a score of 90 and the ones who succeed him or her will be accorded marks in a proportionate manner. The authorities will also be providing a weightage of 10% on the marks that are given by the selection committee. The athletes in question shall also be judged on the basis of the following factors:


  • Standard and profile of concerned event
  • Team spirit
  • Leadership
  • Fair play
  • Sportsmanship
  • Levels of discipline


As per the new set of rules, athletes who have been successful at the Paralympics as well as the Olympics will be regarded eligible, automatically, for Arjuna or Rajiv Khelratna Awards. The ultimate honor, though, will be dependent on whether the athlete has won a gold medal, a silver medal or a bronze medal. In case of cricketers or other Indian sports that do not feature in the Olympics, Commonwealth or Asiads, the selection committee will suggest the number of awards. However, that number shall not be more than two.


The Ministry has also stated that under normal circumstances in a given year only one award will be conferred for a particular discipline. The award will also be provided on the basis of the availability of the said sportsperson. One of the major goals of these rules is to make sure that women and specially abled athletes are represented properly.


It has also been stated that the principle of one award for each discipline will be applicable for both men and women athletes as well as various team sports. The maximum number of athletes from any discipline who can be considered worthy of the award is 4 – 2 men and 2 women. There is also a possibility that the elite panel could suggest the names of 15 athletes for the Arjuna Awards with regards to their performance in the very best of sporting events.


While the newly coined rules may not be able to address decisions such as conferring Bharat Ratna to Tendulkar over Dhyan Chand and the logic behind them, they will at least provide a clear picture for one and all regarding the position that will be allotted to different sportsmen. At least, interested people shall be able to understand the reasons behind awarding one athlete and ignoring another.


One also feels that cricketers could be shortchanged by the rules where the Big 3 – Olympics, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games – will be given more weightage and these are events where they are unable to represent their country. At the moment, all they have are the 50 overs World Cup and its 20 over version. They are the most maligned among Indian sportsmen with the exception of weightlifters for whom banned substances are a major issue, but they also enjoy the maximum support thanks to their intermittent success at home.


Footballers, though, will be the worst affected since there is no chance that they can compete in World Cups or Asia Cups in the foreseeable future and tournaments like SAFF Cup may not being given any weightage as such by virtue of its limited participation. So may be, the decision-makers in the Sports Ministry can look into these issues and perhaps make sure that these athletes stand a decent chance to win the honors as well.