Siddarth Sharma - sidbreakball

Start for India, sidelined for nationals. Who's to blame for Benching by Bureaucracy?

Published on
June 6, 2016

Originally published on 27 Dec, 2011 on Sportskeeda.

Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Yadwinder Singh sidelined for the Nationals. Who’s to blame?

Blame the enabler, not the perpetrator.

Two of the best players in the country, Vishesh Bhriguvanshi and Yadwinder Singh, had helped lead Railways to the National title a year ago. This year, although they both changed teams and would be representing Uttrakhand in the Nationals, one red tape in the hands of their former employees stopped them from representing their new teams in the Nationals.

Before they can be allowed to represent their new team, they had to show a NOC (No objection certificate) which ironically had to be obtained from their previous team and employee, Railways.

Here’s a sample of what such a NOC would look like:

Hello poachers/new employees of our stars!
It is our great pleasure to allow our former players to play for you. If we happen to face each other in competitions, do remind them of how fair-minded we were in letting them walk away. Hopefully, our generosity will keep them from beating us black and blue.

Even if you don’t like it, you can see why the Railways did not issue the certificate. As former employees, the two players are reasonable in expecting some loyalty and a gesture of good faith from the Railways. But they left their former team in the first place. It can be argued that the players were disloyal in leaving their teams. Why should the employee reward disloyalty with loyalty?

As a gesture of good faith.

There’s not much room for goodwill when it is a zero-sum game and one party can only gain at the expense of the other. Don’t get me wrong.  Its not fair to the two stars to have to sit out and such talent should never be sidelined because of a reason like this. They’ve put the work in, risen to their current status, and made our country proud. Not being allowed to play in the Nationals feels like a slap in the face. One of the worst experiences an athlete can have is being sidelined and not being able to play, and on such a high stage too.

Its messed up and it should not have happened. The Railways, by doing this have acknowledged:
- the two players could shoot holes in the Railways title hopes.
- the Railways won’t always act in the best interest of their former players at their own expense.
- they care about winning.


If Dan Gilbert could stop LeBron James from playing against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the postseason, would any of us expect him not to?

If the Lakers lost Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol to the Mavericks and come playoff time, found they could stop both of them from playing for their new teams through a bureaucratic loophole, what would they do?

What would you as a fan expect your team to do?

If the Lakers allowed their former stars to play and subsequently get buried six feet under by them, wouldn’t their hands hold the shovel which dug their grave?

Scott Jurek, the ultramarathon runner, is so compassionate towards his competition that he even cheers them on as they compete against him. Allen Iverson has said “I don’t want anyone to give me anything. I want all the odds against me, that’s the way I’ve been all my life. Then I want to take it. I want to be able to say ’Ya’ll didn’t give me this. I took it.’”

Those two guys are once in a generation talents. Higher the odds stacked against them, higher they rise. The current Railways team, without Vishesh and Yadwinder, aren’t stacked enough to afford to make a gesture of good faith which may come back to bite them.

In defense of ambush marketing, it is argued that the ambush marketer would be accused of negligence towards the stakeholders if he/she did not explore every legal avenue to get one up on the competition. Every legal avenue. Ambush marketing can be slippery to pin down, but a NOC certificate is clear enough.

The question shouldn’t be “Why aren’t the Railways aren’t letting their former stars play?” Rather “Why do they have the power to stop them?”

Why is a NOC required? To declare that the employee has discharged all obligations and isn’t jumping ship through and because of a hole they drilled. And not to allow the former employer to play around with the career of their employees. This provision needs to go away.


There is blame to be assigned and fingers to be pointed. But not only at the Railways, although one can shake our heads at their actions. They should not have the power to stop their employees in the first place. The procedure of issuing NOCs needs to be examined, and fast.

Uttrakhand had made it to the quarter-finals, behind the high scoring Trideep Rai, former Indian team captain. He had 34 points vs Chhattisgarh, 39 vs Services, and 44 vs Karnataka. But they lost to Tamil Nadu in the quarter-finals, 78-66.

It sucks not to be able to watch these two stars shine. These stars were sucked in by the black hole of bureaucracy. Black holes are formed when a massive star exhausts its nuclear fuel and collapses under its own gravity. It sucks so bad that no light can escape from it.

Our bureaucracy resembles a black hole too often for comfort. Sucking in our stars and eating up the light. Let’s hope this isn’t a precedent for things to come. If any good can come out of it, it is that the two stars are among the best in the country, and having such a high profile case worked on and worked out could help players in the future avoid the same fate.

Siddarth Sharma - sidbreakball

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