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Sports At R: A Level Playing Field?

April 15, 2020
- Vedant Kumar, Atharva Shukla, Pritika Mishra, Mayank Verma, Jigyasa Kumari

With IIT Roorkee having won the bid to host the 55th Inter IIT Sports competition, our institute has been presented with a unique chance to upgrade its sports facilities. This also presents our teams with the coveted home advantage on which they will surely try and capitalize. Organising an event like the Inter IIT Sports Meet is a mammoth task, and hence Watch Out! decided to try and gauge the level of preparedness of our institute, as well as our participating teams, for next year’s tournament.

World class sports facilities - while being obvious catalysts that improve our performances in the intercollegiate tournaments - are expected to exist in an institute like ours, because they promote the all round development of the students on campus. After sacrificing their favourite sports for a good part of two years while burning the midnight while preparing for the JEE, students are often keen to rekindle their love for sports and expect an avenue to do the same.

This article is the first in a two article series - here we concern ourselves with the pressing issues faced by our teams, as well as the student populace as a whole. We aim to dispel the common doubts and problems students deal with, as well as inform the campus junta about the work being done behind the scenes to provide a seamless experience to all the students.

Past Performance

We start by taking a look at the past performances of IIT Roorkee in the Inter IIT Sports tournaments (we have taken the 52nd, 53rd and 54th meetup in our analysis).

Line Chart

The teams of a number of sports like Basketball, Football, Hockey, Cricket, Volleyball, Weightlifting have been consistently performing well over the years (with only a few ups and downs). The March Past performed by the IIT Roorkee contingent also managed to receive the nod of approval by finishing on the podium in the previous three editions. The performance of the Swimming team has improved as well, with the men’s team brilliantly securing the 2nd position overall in the 54th tournament, and the water polo team breaking into the semis.

This year, the squash team was able to overcome the stand-still they were facing in the last two tournaments, by securing the overall 3rd position in the 2019 edition. Even though there has been a significant improvement in the results in the individual events for the Athletics Men’s Contingent, the team as a whole hasn’t been able to move past the forsaken 5th position in the last three editions of the tournament. Similarly the racquet teams - despite delivering a few exceptional performances, have not fared well overall in these tournaments either (refer to the above graph).

We have tried to find reasons for this seeming asymmetry and imbalance in the performances of these various teams.


The overall performance of our institute in this year’s meet was far from a victory after the triumphant success we achieved in 2018. As apparent from the graph, there have been massive improvements in different categories in recent years, but the team performance still leaves a lot to be desired.

Please Note: Mentioned in the above graph is the overall standing of the team. In a few sports such as Swimming & Athletics, many students have secured medals in their individual events, which is not reflected in this graph.

Grievances & Redressals


The quality of various relevant parameters for different sports has been shown above. This list has been compiled by us and is bound to be subjective. However, we expect it to be fairly accurate since it was curated after interacting extensively with the sport secretaries and the sports council.

After conferring with the Secretaries/Joint Secretaries of the various teams, some common problems for all the sports were found; these are listed down below along with the work done by the administration to ease the situation for the teams -

1. Coaches :-


The lack of permanent coaches, or in some cases any coach at all, has been a pertinent issue for a long time. Coaches are essential since they help improve performances and alleviate other issues that the players might be facing. The teams are mentored in a way such that the players avoid injuries. They also provide much needed motivation - which helps the students practice regularly - and are bound to add a tinge of seriousness to the team’s activities.

Our Squash team grapples with this problem, as the institute has found it difficult to hire a coach for the sport since Roorkee is not a big metropolitan city. For the swimming team, there’s no full time coach, that is, during the off days (when the swimming pool isn’t open) the students have to practice on their own or follow the regime followed by the athletics team, so they are left without any specialised supervision. The Athletics team has an experienced coach, but athletics itself comprises various specialised activities (Long Jump, High Jump, Hammer throw, Shot put, Javelin throw, track & field etc. etc.), so at times, in many of these activities, the students do not receive specialised coaching.


Even though the situation was dismal in the past, a lot of ground has been covered in the past three years to cover this gap.

Ground Staff-

Coaches have to be hired from the gymkhana fees, and the ground staff are paid using the same fund. A lot of money from the gymkhana budget is spent on the salaries of the ground staff (they are responsible for the proper maintenance of the vast sports arenas and are hence required in large numbers). This is primarily because the hiring needs to be done according to institute norms which dictate that the ground staff and the coaches are to be hired through an external agency, which makes the procedure expensive. The agency assumes insurance responsibilities for the employees they bring in. Despite the added incurred cost, this path is better suited for an educational institution such as IIT Roorkee, since in case of any mishap, the external agency is questioned, and the institute is not held liable.


Due to this there is often a dearth of money to spend on other related activities, including the hiring of coaches. Efforts are being made to bring these expenses under the aegis of the Central Administration. Specialized coaches are being hired, who already have training in the necessary basic skills. As of now, we have temporary coaches for almost all the sports including Rowing, Yoga, Taekwondo and Weightlifting.

2. Exposure :-


A major issue faced by nearly all the teams is the lack of tournaments they participate in, which leads to them not being sufficiently prepared and ready during the days of the Inter IIT. For example, the Hockey team usually plays practice games with the army team, but these matches are infrequent, since the paperwork involved in setting them up is cumbersome.

The AITA ( All India Tennis Association) is situated in Dehradun. The permission to participate in their tournaments can provide the students with adequate match practice, but as of now this is not being granted on a regular basis as well.


Funding is the primary hurdle when the exposure of students is considered. For instance, sending students to IIT Bombay for competitions is expensive. Instead, students are sent to competitions like Udghosh (IIT Kanpur’s Sports Fest) which are conducted near the campus. Other college teams are also invited to play in IITR’s Sports Fest - Sangram.

The administration also pointed out the fact that the teams are not sent to other tournaments in the nearby NCR-region. This is because they don’t wish to send them to institutes which are not IITs, since they believe this might lead to tussles between the participating colleges. The relevant paperwork has to be dealt with when it comes to organizing matches with teams outside the campus, since there are safety concerns involved. The Sports Council has taken steps to reduce the bureaucracy surrounding this process.

3. Equipments & Arena:-


Students associated with a few sports have expressed their concerns surrounding the equipment that they are provided with. Quality equipment is an inescapable component of improvement, and the lack thereof prevents the students from realising their true potentials. There are only three badminton courts in our institute as of now due to which there isn’t enough space for everyone to practice. Similar problems are faced by the Table-Tennis and Athletics teams. A lot of requests have been made by various sports teams regarding the need for different equipment, but either their requests have not been fulfilled so far, or the desired equipment has been partially made available (Many of these requests were made 3 to 4 years ago).


A major roadblock in getting new equipment turns out to be the fact that the MHRD has stopped funding the development of infrastructure across all IITs. These costs now have to be taken up by the institute. The Sport Council has tried to provide the necessary equipment for the various sports : 10-15 lakhs have been spent on equipment, petty expenses and office expenses.

The renovation of the gym has been done during the past 2-3 years - a whopping total of Rs. 1 crore was spent on this. These funds have been granted by the Director, and are not taken out of the Sports fund as they cannot be sustained otherwise. A spiker machine has been purchased for the volleyball team. A safety landing pit for long/ high jump has been provided along with jumping pit, poles and bars for pole vault, which in total cost Rs. 10 lakh. The LBS is being renovated, the ground is being levelled and the Director has also approved the necessary funding for installing floodlights. A sprinkler system has been installed in the football and hockey grounds - this cost Rs. 38 lakh.

Any expenditure amounting to upwards of Rs. 50,000 requires a quotation and the resulting bureaucracy can take upto two months, resulting in delays.

4. NSO Credits:-


It is a general consensus that the recent removal of NSO credits has resulted in lackadaisical participation by the student community. This lack of participation follows when the students come to their second years as well.


To counter this the sports council is looking to adopt a system similar to what is being followed in IIT Kanpur. There is a physical education course which is compulsory for all first yearities in which the students spend two hours every week. The sports council has passed it and right now the proposal is under the supervision of officers in the main building.

Arguments Put Forward By the Emerging Sports And Their Counters By The Administration

1. Chess:-


The sport Chess has recently been inducted into the Inter IIT tournament, and the members of the chess team have been protesting the need for them to go through rigorous physical training (running, push ups etc) along with the other members of NSO, since they are more likely to be benefited by Yoga and meditation which might help them in boosting their concentration.


The maintenance of bare minimum physical fitness is what necessitates the involvement of students of NSO Chess in the physical drills, though the contact hours should be revised for them.

2. Boxing:-


There has been a steady increase in the number of enthusiasts for boxing in the institute. This has naturally been followed by calls for equipment and recognition by the administration.


The failure to recognise Boxing by the administration can be put down to it being a ‘violent’ sport. The Sports Council is wary of the possible damage that can be caused to a student taking part in this sport. Kabaddi was removed due to this very same reason in the past.

3. Taekwondo:-


Taekwondo seems to fight similar problems since it is not recognised as a sport by the Institute Sports Council (ISC) and is not a part of the Inter IIT Sports Meet. Due to this the members of the Taekwondo team have to participate individually in the competitions they want to go to - they can not represent IIT Roorkee. The performance of the team in the State Taekwondo competition 2019 was a success, their group of 12 people won 17 medals. But these accolades could not be attributed to IIT Roorkee as the students had to participate in their individual capacity.


The Institute Sports council has taken several steps to ensure increased student participation by introducing Taekwondo as a sport in NSO, Inter Bhawan Championships and Colors Trophy. In addition to this the arena and equipment provided are of world class standards and helps in preventing serious injuries. However, students still can’t represent IIT Roorkee in externally held competitions.

A note from WO: We urge the sports council to come up with definitive rules which characterize the inclusion of a new sport, its recognition by the sport council. This will help reduce the persisting confusion in the student community.

IITR Speaks On Sports

To better understand the problems faced by the students, we conducted a survey to gauge the perception of the IITR junta regarding the sports facilities. This was done with the help of a Google Form available in the public domain. In the next section, we discuss its inferences.


  1. A majority of the IITR junta seems to be into sports, with over 90% of them having played a sport on the campus before. This result is obviously skewed due to the fact that a person actively involved in a sport would have been more inclined to answer this survey.


  2. The public view seems to be split on the quality of equipment provided in the institute. It does not come as a surprise that more professional sports persons would want better equipment while the rest might be content with the available facilities.


  3. A lot of people feel that there is insufficient space for everyone to train together. This lack of space is particularly highlighted in sports like Badminton, where there are only 3 courts as of now which makes it difficult to accommodate everyone involved. A non-NSO player has to come in the morning or during class timings, thus making it difficult to come and practice. As would be expected, these problems are not faced in sports like football, cricket and hockey.

Induction Of Students Into Sports Through Improved ‘Bhawan Sports Culture’

It is fair to say that the improvement in IITR’s performances in the inter-collegiate tournaments, and/or the increase in the number of students participating in sports, is highly dependent on a strong bhawan culture for sports. This is also essential for the physical fitness of the bhawan inmates.

Learning a new sport is not always as challenging and implausible as people might imagine it to be. Theoretically the only things required for certain sports are regularity and patience. Anyone who wants to start playing a sport that is not heavily dependent on specialised gear and equipment, can play at non-professional levels with friends and colleagues in the students’ club or even in the bhawan compounds. As an individual gets the hang of the sport, he/she can shift to play it under the supervision of the professionals and the coaches in our courts and fields. Participating in institute tournaments like the Inter- and Intra-Bhawans, or in Sangram and other events would also help them in realizing their Inter IIT dreams.

But a lot of this is easier said than done. When it comes to a number of sports (like badminton), the timings of the regular courts, and the number of courts found in the bhawans are inflexible and insufficient. A lot of students are thus not able to practice on a regular basis and hone their skills. The lack of tournaments for sports like squash and water polo can be attributed to the sparse interest in them; the promotion of these sports at bhawan level by the sports secretaries can help improve matters. The sports facilities inside the hostel premises also require regular maintenance work which will further help the students to take part in their favourite sports.


According to our survey (which is likely to have been filled by sport enthusiasts on campus), an overwhelmingly large percentage of students believe tournaments similar to the inter and the intra bhawan would be of help. The firsts steps to improve the Bhawan Culture have already been taken by the Sports Council. The Inter Bhawan Sports tournament was revamped and the duration over which it was held was increased. This year the tournament followed the ‘General Championship’ format - this is similar to the one followed during Inter IIT tournaments. We request the sports council to continue with similar efforts this year and look into the viability of expanding the same.

With the help of this piece we hope to bridge the communication gap between the Sport Council and the students. We hope the administration takes note of the problems discussed and appropriately deals with them. Stay tuned for the next part of this article where we analyse the budget for the Sports Activities in the campus, as well as the preparations for hosting the Inter IIT Sports meet 2020.