Is the fact that sporting organisations around the world are becoming ageist due to the fact that the modern youth are not prepared to fight for their place in a team?
It is an unwanted trend across many sports in many countries that restrictions are being put on coaches as to whom they can pick depending on their age, and experienced players are being forced out of teams even though they still have a great deal to offer and are often better than those who are replacing them, based purely on their age.
We have seen many under-age tournaments suffer unscrupulous coaches alter the ages of players so that they can play; even countries that promote fair play such as Australia have done this. Now we face the possibility of ageing players falsifying their ages in order to continue playing at the highest level.
The 2016 Hero Hockey India League is the latest in a line of competitions to step in and stipulate rules that exclude players of a certain age, in this case over 30 years of age. Hockey India, the organizers of the league took a decision to exclude Indian players who are over 30 years of age from the upcoming auction pool for the 2016 edition. It is a move that has not gone down well with many. The issue that has many in India baffled is the fact that foreign players above 30 years are eligible to be part of the auction pool.
If foreign players had been excluded one could almost understand the thinking. In many sports, but especially football we have witnessed older players well past their use-by date hanging on and taking large sums of money when they struggle to even match the memories fans have of them. Credit to the Indian Soccer League, they quickly weeded many of these out in 2015.
However in Hockey most of the foreign players over 30 are still in peak condition and can still perform at the highest level.
Although there were a few former Indian players selected for the Dabang Mumbai Franchise in 2015 who were over 30 and to be brutally honest, no longer had the pace required to play at the highest level. Their vision and skill was still very apparent, but the movement and fitness side of the game found them wanting. One therefore wonders if Hockey India made this call based on the performances of a couple of players.
As Hockey India are not alone in making such a decision, one has to ask have sports administrators reached the conclusion that the only way to see younger players break into senior teams is by forcing the older players out?
The modern generation have been labelled one that wants everything but is not prepared to work for it; Although there are many young men and women who buck that trend. Are administrators kow-towing to this generation?
The simple truth is, as in life, the best should be the ones selected, or the best who will compliment a team or a style of play. Just as selection should not be based on race, colour, or religion, it should never be based on age either. The player is good enough or he is not.