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Subcontinental Drift: Lame Games
Your theories on South Asia's Olympic shame

September 9, 2000
Web posted at 11:30 a.m. Hong Kong time, 11:30 p.m. EDT

When I asked last week for theories on South Asia's poor Olympic record, I expected a few strongly worded letters. After all, I reasoned, not a lot of subcontinentals follow the Games. What did I know? Over the past seven days, I've been inundated with theories and ideas from folks all over the world.

Subcontinental Drift: Olympic Shame
What ails South Asia's athletes? You tell me!
- Thursday, August 31, 2000

Subcontinental Drift: Justifying Hate
Faux theories fail to explain the Kashmir dispute
- Thursday, August 24, 2000

Subcontinental Drift: Mirage in the Mountains
How Hizb-ul-Mujahideen used its ceasefire to play politics
- Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Subcontinental Drift: Hair-Trigger
Why the cease-fire in Kashmir cannot last
- Thursday, August 3, 2000

Subcontinental Drift: Trials and Errors
Justice isn't served by scared judges and politicians
- Thursday, July 27, 2000

Subcontinental Drift: Second Affront
Christians vs. Bigots II -- Islamic bombers join Hindu mobs
- Thursday, July 20, 2000

The story behind today's news from the editors of Asiaweek

From Our Correspondent
Personal perspectives on the news
Many sports lovers posted their opinions on the Subcontinental Drift bulletin board (on this page). Look for the messages from Ramesh Nallapati (#3237), Milind Dawan (#3244), Prabodh (#3245) and Humayun Malik (#3248) -- to name but four. I won't reproduce these or any of the other interesting messages on the board because you have easy access to them. (Just click on the little box.)

The Subcontinental Drift message board -- sound-off about the news in South Asia to TIME
Other readers chose to e-mail me direct, and I'd like to share their thought-provoking views. What follows is a heavily edited selection. Please keep in mind that these are only excerpts:

In my opinion the most important reason for the dismal performance of Indians in world sports is the low emphasis for sporting activities in India. Any middle-class parents would like to see their children become professionals like doctors or engineers or accountants or IT specialists -- and not professional athletes.
-- C. Lakshmi Varahan

Most Asians are stunted and are underdeveloped physically and mentally. They just cannot compete with the better-developed Westerners!
-- Charlie Chan

* No systematic profile and progress report on biological and physiological status of the Olympic participants; insufficient research in exercise physiology and ergodynamics.
* Lack of good coaches.
-- M. Zafar Nomani

We should not be "ashamed" about our performance in the Olympics. It is a natural consequence of our standing in the world. We have so many other things to be ashamed of first -- like our literacy rate, poverty levels, health conditions, political leaders and parties, corruption, terrorism etc.
-- Sourav Dasgupta

The answer lies in your own article. Our planners, media and thinking people focus on this topic once every four years, and usually a day before the Olympics -- as if it were a periodic celestial event! The issue is discussed, solutions proposed and heads hung in shame -- after that, it's business as usual until the next Olympics!
-- Chetan Hebbalae

You need a killer's instinct to win. [Winners] are revenge-oriented people. It's the hatred for the opponent that drives the winner to fight and stay one step ahead. Secondly, climatic conditions are important. Most good athletes are from cold climatic conditions. You need a lot of energy to practice, etc. When it's hot and humid in New York City, nobody feels like working let alone practice. South Asia is hot & humid throughout the year. South Asia does have with "magic" skills but unfortunately they are far from the cities and are unknown or ignored. In India for instance, fierce and energetic athletes can be found in tribal people hailing from the northeastern mountains.
-- S. Chakraborty

Who was the captain of our hockey team during each year of [India's] double hat trick in Olympic gold? Just one name will do! Does anyone know? And how many people know who Harshad Mehta is?
-- Dhirendra.

Being of Bangladeshi origin, sports have never been an important aspect in my upbringing. I don't know if you've been to Dhaka recently, but I couldn't find a single park or playground in schools. In Sydney, there is at least one in every suburb, if not more.
-- Suvomoy

We Indians are physically in poor shape due to poor diet (only starch and sugar, no protein), and hereditary characteristics.
-- V. Parameswaran

The response to last week's call has been so overwhelming, I've decided to extend it by a week. Keep those theories coming, folks. Feel free to contest the ideas reproduced here and on the board. And look out for another selection next Thursday.

The Subcontinental Drift message board -- sound-off about the news in South Asia to TIME
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