LAHORE: The gigantic presence and consequent proliferation of the game of cricket is seemingly stifling the promotion of other sports which get either very little or in some cases no coverage in the electronic media.
The need for having a separate channel for other sports has long been felt in all quarters concerned but demand in this regard has hardly been articulated in the way as now some sports federations have come forward for taking steps towards initiating a sports channel that will only focus on disciplines other than the game of cricket.
To help other disciplines except for cricket go well among the youth high-ups of various national sports federations are in complete agreement on having a separate TV channel for other sports which either get less time on the state-run television or are simply ignored in that they are financially not viable for the channel in terms of advertisements.
Most of the officials associated with various sports federations also expressed the view that some sort of legal binding must be put on the proposed separate channel for sports to screen live coverage of various national championships held in various disciplines.
The step of establishing a separate sports channel exclusively dealing with disciplines other than the game of cricket may prove as game-changer for the otherwise fast declining sports standards in the country.
The other disciplines may get further boost if the proposed new sports channel or even the state-run PTV sees to it that the commentary in various sports is made in the national language instead of English language, for the former is well understood across the width and breadth of Pakistan.
President of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Akhtar Rasool Chaudhry while commenting on the issue said that though PTV Sports was already working but its role was confined to just one game of cricket.
“You could easily observe that cricket is shown round the clock on the national sports channel but you hardly watch any other sports especially the national game in hockey,” commented the PHF president while stating that he was not against cricket but the government should pay attention to other sports which have been ruined over the time.
“One of the main reasons behind the fast declining standards of sports in Pakistan is that most disciplines either get less coverage or in some cases no coverage at all.
“I can bet that if the government gives priority to promoting sports culture among youths, it will definitely help youngsters come towards healthy activities,” asserted the former Olympian.
With electronic media hardly giving any coverage to other games except for cricket youngsters in Pakistan see hardly any future in other disciplines despite the fact that there are dozens of other disciplines wherein Pakistan youths could do wonders.
Making demand on the federal information ministry and other authorities concerned to set up a separate sports channel for other disciplines, the secretary of the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) Khalid Mahmood argued that Pakistan had the potential to excel in around 35 disciplines but these games are not shown by any broadcaster in the country.
“The electronic media play a vital role in promotion of sports all over the world but in Pakistan there is no medium to give full coverage to sports activities. Youngsters are not familiar with players of the other games as they are glued to their TV sets to watch cricketers as a result of which they only see their future in cricket.
“However, if other sports get proper coverage through electronic media they will not only attract players but also sponsors,” the POA secretary maintained.
The reason that the state-run PTV shows more cricket than other sports is the popularity of the game and the ads which the state-run TV takes. However, not all and sundry agree to this.
Pakistan Volleyball Federation (PVF) chairman Mohammad Yaqoob before throwing his weight behind the launch of a separate channel for other sports argues that PTV’s real task should not be earning money but taking care of national interests.
“A separate sports channel covering local sports activities could change the fate of players and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif should take imitative in this regard to save sports culture,” the PVF chairman held.Pakistan Federation Baseball (PFB) president Khawar Shah also endorsed the aforementioned views while holding out the hope that the federal government would take immediate steps to introduce a new sports channel which except for cricket will give proper coverage to all other disciplines.
“The new sports channel may not be a success story in terms of finances but at least it will be performing the national duty,” Khawar said, adding that with the passage of time the new sports channel would also start earning which in turn will not only help PTV but also the sports federations.
When contacted Sports Board Punjab Director General Usman Anwar said he had already prepared a summary for the federal government in connection with the launch of a separate sports channel for other sports, adding that it was vital to promote sports culture among the youth.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Karate Federation president Mohammad Jahangir, Pakistan Weightlifting Federation secretary Hafiz Imran Butt, Tug-of-War Federation president Rana Jamil, Pakistan Handball Federation president Shafiq Ahmed and many others supported the demand for a separate channel for other disciplines.
Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2015