The Ugly Side Of B-School Sports Tournaments

Sangram 2017; the annual sports meet between the south IIMs (IIM Bangalore, Kozhikode, Trichy and Vizag) ended on Sunday. It was hosted by IIM Kozhikode who were eventually crowned the champions. This seems like an arbitrary article up until here. But there is more to it than what meets the eye. Although the trophy was presented to IIM K at the end of the tournament, it would have been in everybody’s interest to award them the trophy at the start and then play the tournament! Read on to find out why…

Coming from an IIM Bangalore student, this might seem like crying foul. Hence, I will restrict myself to presenting facts rather than my opinion and leave it up to you to form a judgement.

IIM Kozhikode won their maiden trophy and they left no stone unturned in reaching there, both on and off the field. I will narrate two most prominent incidents which support my now foregone conclusion. The first one happened with the swimming team. There were a total of 22 swimming events spanning 25m, 50m and 100m across various strokes and relays. The event was scheduled to start at 6 A.M. and had a cutoff time of 1:30 P.M. The buses of the various teams left from IIM K to the NIT Calicut swimming pool where the event was scheduled to happen. Everyone was pumped up and raring to go. But then, unfortunately, they saw the pool. That sight was horrifying at best and torturous at worst. The swimming pool was half filled with water. The rest of it was covered with worms, oil foam and algae. The only swimming competition in that pool was by the various aforementioned creatures. IIM B, T and V backed out immediately, obviously. IIM K started asking for a walkover, obviously! They claimed that the pool was fine a couple of days back when they practiced and denied shedding light on the current condition of the pool. But they were unsuccessful in this attempt as even they did not have the guts to enter that pool. Hence, the event was rescheduled at 9 A.M. at another swimming pool.

The entire contingent had to make their way back to the campus and wait for further instructions. Nobody had even had breakfast. It was 8:15 A.M. and IIM K’s Sports Committee started negotiating for cutting down the no. of events from 22 to 12. They cited lack of time as the reason for this. Now this might seem fair. But since the pool was available for 3 hours, the argument was hardly cogent. 22 events can be conducted in less than 2 hours. So why were the events being cut down? It is interesting to note that 50m and 100m laps across 22 events require a lot of practice and stamina. When it comes to 25 m sprints, it is just about one sprint. Thus, it is easier to win. After a lot of rigidness, finally all teams had to give in and swimming was reduced to just 12* events! And you guessed it right, all 10 were 25m! But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The least that a hosting IIM can do is ensure that the sporting facilities are up to scratch.* By the way, if you are forming a judgement of lack of sportsmanship by now, then I advise you to wait. There is more. The people recording the swimming timings were the sports committee members of IIM K. In the 25 m freestyle, they switched the timings of IIM Trichy and IIM Kozhikode hoping no one would notice. But to their surprise, IIM Trichy came to know about this. IIM K defended themselves saying that they had simply recorded the timings as they happened. To their horror, IIM Trichy had the event recorded on video which clearly showed IIM T’s swimmer finishing before IIM K’s swimmer. The sports committee was shocked to see this. They now started claiming that it was a clerical error. Sheer disgrace. Furthermore, after all the events were done, they took more than a day to confirm the final results. They performed all possible statistical operations on the timings. An attempt which managed to get them the Bronze Medal in Men’s Swimming. The Gold Medal which they earned in Women’s Swimming was very well deserved though. They had a national swimmer and she truly showed her mettle.

If the above incident has come as a shock to you, then you will certainly enjoy this one. The traditional Indian sport of Kho-Kho brought about the true spirit of Sangram (no puns intended). The finals of Kho-Kho between IIM Bangalore and IIM Kozhikode started at 1 A.M. as scheduled. A crowd of over 150 from both colleges was witnessing what was to come. The game started exactly as a final should. Fiercely fought between 2 great teams who deserved to be in the finals. It was a close contest fought by 12 people from each team. The crowd was doing its best to act as the 13th Man through immense and non-stop sledging. Sledging off the field is a part and parcel of the game and did not come as a surprise. However, what was shocking was the way IIM K players were conducting themselves on the field. In an attempt to get people from IIM B out, they were literally treating it as a boxing game; punching and kicking repeatedly. They did not refrain from verbally abusing girls either. The crowd was on the edge looking at what was going on. After a few minutes, an IIM K player kicked an IIM B player on the chest right in front of the IIM B supporters. This led to an onslaught by the entire IIM B supporting contingent as well as that of IIM K. More than 150 people were on the field exchanging kicks and blows while a few tried to stop them. It was really shameful that a closely fought contest had to be interrupted like this. IIM K was leading at that stage and was clearly the better team. Their 13th Man was probably doing his job very well. This may be due to the fact that he was supported by 2 more men. Confused? I will explain that in a minute.

Let me back up a little bit. When the game was interrupted due to the invasion by the supporters, it led to a discussion between the two teams and the referees as to what is to be done. An interesting sequence of events followed. IIM Bangalore alleged that IIM Kozhikode was using 1* extra player (beyond the 13th Man of course). IIM K obviously denied it. The IIM B captain also showed the 1 extra player* to the referee to which IIM K replied that he was not a Kho-Kho player but indeed a Hockey player and had nothing to do with the game. The referees had no reason to give any importance to the allegations and IIM K was very confident of their stand. But, to their horror, yes you guessed it right, IIM Bangalore had video recordings of the game! The videos and pictures clearly showed that IIM K was actually using 14 players instead of 12. IIM B asked for immediate disqualification of IIM K citing that the evidence was beyond all doubt. But it was not going to be that simple. The arguments that followed ensured that Sangram was no longer a sports competition. It was all about negotiating. IIM K put forth their stand saying that the rules allowed 14 players. This was checked and turned out to be false. Their next argument was that they are ready to take a penalty of 3 outs and continue with the match. This too was denied. The next argument was pure desperation. They said that since both teams’ supporters invaded the ground, both teams should be disqualified. IIM B threatened to back out of Sangram altogether. 4 hours of negotiation followed 30 mins of Kho-Kho after which IIM K accepted to have cheated and was disqualified. The gold medal went to IIM Bangalore. Now again, lets back up a little bit. Why on earth was anyone recording a Kho-Kho game that was so much fun to watch and be completely involved in? A few IIM B students were recording the game on instructions from a few seniors. They knew it would be handy later on. And why did they think so? Because IIM K had done this every year! Even IIM Trichy and IIM Vizag agreed to this. It was high time to catch the thief red-handed. And as is always the case, the thief was overconfident on never getting caught. There is a famous saying that applies here, “The bad guys need to get lucky every single time, but the good guys need to get lucky only once!”

IIM Kozhikode won Sangram handsomely and probably deserved to win it too. They had a very strong contingent and some exceptional sportsmen across sports who scintillated the crowd. If whatever happened, had not had happened, maybe IIM K would have still won it handsomely. There is no doubting the sporting prowess of IIM K which was clearly displayed in this tournament.

Woodrow Wilson once famously said, “If you lose your wealth, you have lost nothing; but if you lose your character, you have lost everything.” At the end, I stick to my promise and leave it to you to form your own opinion. IIM Kozhikode won Sangram 2017 by winning 11 Gold Medals as highly touted on their blog. However, who were the true winners of this tournament? Or a probably more apt question would be, who were the biggest losers in this tournament?

P.S.: The 2 incidents I have cited are on purpose. This is by no means an exhaustive list. However, I chose these 2 because IIM Bangalore won the Gold Medal in both of them. It was just to reinforce that this article is not a case of crying foul. It is for preserving what sports mean. I am an out and out sportsman at heart and I hate losing more than I love winning. But what I hate more is when the image of sports is tainted. This article is just an attempt to reinforce the image of sports and sporting events. Especially when the most prestigious Indian b-schools are involved.


Author’s Note : 

Some of the factual inaccuracies pointed out to me have been corrected.

For all those questioning my sportsmanship and asking me to accept defeat with grace, I request you to read the part where I have mentioned that IIM Kozhikode had an exceptional sporting contingent and deserved to win hands down. This article is not about winning or losing Sangram. Every year, the Sangram trophy goes only to those who deserve it and this year was no exception. If you want me to say it, then here it is, “I accept defeat in Sangram, with Grace!”

*This article was edited on 24th November 2017 at 2:27 pm as requested by the author of the article.

Amol Aranake

Chartered Accountant May 2016 IIM Bangalore PGP 2017-19



Gaurav Kushwaha

As someone who witnessed the whole kho-kho event, I would like to point out a couple of discrepancies in your own description.
Kho-kho unlike mixed martial arts, is a game of running and chasing. During the 6 minutes and 30 seconds (approx.) of the 2nd innings, IIM K managed to tag 5 IIM B players which means contact between the players was made at 5 times only. “Punching and kicking repeatedly” hardly sounds like an appropriate phrase (but hey! Well done on the exaggeration!).
Before addressing the kicking on the chest comment, here is a link to give you an idea of how rough the game can be (, you can seek directly to 6:05)
Anyone who has ever played kho-kho would know a chaser is allowed to extend his leg to tag the runner in order to get him out. How a chaser (from IIM K) who was running “BEHIND” the runner (from IIM B) can kick the runner on his chest during such an attempt, is a puzzle even a professional Kho-Kho player would not be able to solve (Again, Well done on the exaggeration!). The only part you got correct is that as soon as the next player of IIM B (lagging behind by 8 points by then) was tagged by an IIM K player, the whole contingent of IIM B took it upon themselves to enter the ground and stop the play using violence (there were two referees who at any point of time could have presented a red card to a player for dangerous play, but of course the move should first be dangerous in the first place!). Only on the next morning would I get to hear from the students of IIM B (don’t know if it was true) that their audience didn’t actually know that using legs was legal in the game of Kho-kho and misunderstood it as an act of violence from our player (an honest but stupid mistake, I would say)
I would still like to congratulate the IIM B team for the well-deserved (!) gold medal and wish them luck for the next year because we at K believe that what defines one is how well one rises after falling. Although, I do suggest you to get all your facts right before posting an article on platforms like this, isn’t good for your credibility.
PS: The match wasn’t the finals of kho-kho as mentioned in your article. Indeed, there were no finals in Kho-Kho as it was a league tournament between 3 teams each playing 2 matches. IIM K faced IIM T the very next morning and managed to win the game by a margin of an inning and 5 points (2 points more than what B managed to score against the same team).

Ashrav Gupta

Dear Mr Amol,
Are you telling me IIM B supporters did not abuse. (Who are you kidding- remember women’s throwball)
Let me tell you another incident -In women’s throwball, till the end IIM B coach did not speak and when the last 2 points came up he suddenly pointed out to the referee the K Team was fouling. Would have been fine , except for the part that he/she did not point out the same in all previous points when both teams were doing the same foul.You can check your video recordings.Now he/she also did not have the guts to say it when both were doing the same thing (guess that’s sportsmanship)-Wait for deuce and then strike on something which your team is also doing. Of course basketball, wherein B tried to delay a match and tried to convince Trichy on the same (It so happens they did not agree-forgot that)
You call yourself a sportsman and try to make this article about sportsmanship. The truth is you just wanted to rant . Everyone knows the Cheering /sloganeering in bschool sports is bordering sledging but you did not point out B for it. If you had actually wanted to point out something , you could have invited people from K and C (something during Sangharsh…no?) and wrote a joint article but not only did you decide to unilaterally call an entire college a cheater but did so trying to paint yourself as someone fighting for a bigger cause while at the end of day you are just a hypocrite


Amol, I understand that it will be difficult for you to digest the defeat as you are the part of a batch which lost Sangram for the first time in the history of IIM Bangalore, however, being gracious in defeat would be much appreciated. Instead of delivering such a long rant , you all should rather hit the ground and prepare for next Sangram, else you might become the first batch in IIM Bangalore’s history to lose Sangram consecutively. As far as abusing girls are concerned, think twice before giving such unsubstantiated claims, it’s not your lecture hall where you can globe around on serious issues.

Soumya Tripathy

Dear over sensitive student of Tier 1 B school,
You have shown your side of the story. Let me tell the Truth now. You came to Kampus and we welcomed you with all humility and warmth, but we actually didn’t know how to answer your accusations about IIMK being responsible for Kozhikode’s humidity and also soil. We didn’t know how to handle your “you guys are fair” attitude changing to “you cheaters” whenever you went from winning to losing a game. We didn’t know how to tackle you when you objected our Sportscom asking you to stick to rules. You started the battle, we whenever faulted accepted it with grace, even gave you a gold medal in a game you know we could have easily defeated you.
To all your demeaning posts before Sangram, all your actions during Sangram and all your spineless arguments after it, the answer will be our game always. We lost throughout the past years but never stooped to this level, because we know how to accept defeats. Today when we have won, I am glad that you feel K isn’t a tier 1 college, because if this how tier 1 colleges are like, being Tier2 is the best thing that can happen to us.

Loads of love and sympathy,
IIMK Kommunity

Ishu Bhardwaj

Wow Amol ,
I can never stoop down to your level for the fun of writing. Man that is someway to describe things with typical overdose of masala style. You got the kho kho gold despite the fact that the Tier 1 college students or IIM B started the fight thinking that hitting to get a person out was not allowed. You didn’t know about rules but we still awarded you gold. You lost basket-ball to IIM T and were stating the rules that IIM V was late. We waited for more than 30 minutes day before to get the match done before getting walkover. And guess what when you saw us play you backed out after 2nd quarter. Cheers to that sportsmanship. Your player with name in jersey “chacha” was overheard saying come what may we are not letting the basket ball finals to take place and yet you doubt our intentions. You complained many times about humidity and you talk about sportsmanship. We didn’t say a word about women’s handball, let you slip with gold, yet you talk crap or rather shit about swimming. You stopped the match three times on the NIT Calicut ground citing problems of mat. It’s the same mat used by NIT team and clubs of Calicut, better teams than any of the IIMs.
If only you would know what being a sport is, a sports event would have been so dignified. You can and should always proud yourself for being a tier 1 college and we give examples of ABC as well. But yes the darker side was never seen. And you magnified it in one attempt.
Cheers and Hard luck next time.

Swati P Anand

@ Inside IIM – Paying students for writing masala articles so that you can gain from the publicity you get, without actually doing anything. Being a witness to the event, I can very well see that you have made no attempt to verify any of the facts. Hats off to your ‘credible journalism’ or whatever it is that you do. I am glad that this was the first and the last article I ever read on this site.

Team Insideiim

@Swati – InsideIIM is a platform for students share, discuss and express and it is not a newspaper. Except for placement reports and some data based reports we create no content. Our job is provide a platform to all students – if you have a side you should present it instead of abusing the platform because one user has written something which you didn’t agree with.

Abhishek Kshirsagar

To be honest, I was not a part of the squad that visited IIM Kozhikode and not completely aware about what has happened there. But I know Amol (author of this article) very closely and I can guarantee you that he won’t write anything ‘masala’ just for the sake of getting publicity. There might be some misunderstandings, and we agree that, but let’s just appreciate a student’s courage and genuine attempt to put forth his side of the story and stop questioning his intentions.
P.S. He was neither forced nor paid to write this article (and I know him coz he is my classmate and friend as well).

Ashrav Gupta

Had your friend not been so full of himself he would probably have mentioned about the fact that the rules of Kho Kho allowed getting the person out that way and what was shown by players on field was not violent behavior but a normal game rather than cast aspirations on the players. Also, he seems to think there was nothing wrong with Bangalore students coming on field and trying to beat up K players unilaterally. However, this guy is just a masala person and I for one am not going to appreciate a hypocrites courage come whatever may. His intentions are Machiavellian to say the least
Does he not get ANY monetary benefit from InsideIIM ? ( I don’t think so)
PS: I don’t belive B as a college is hypocrite, I am just referring to the person who wrote this article.

Team Insideiim

Amol is a student team member which is a PAID Internship for 30 students across India from different business schools which includes 2 students from IIM Kozhikode as well. They do a variety of tasks apart from just contributing to the platform.

Ashrav Gupta

Of course , I would say the biggest loser are probably the sports committees of all IIM’s who in all sporting events will have to deal with such rebels without a cause and have aspirations cast on them by the losing college without any fault of them just to answer his question asked

Team Insideiim

We have been inundated with requests from IIM Kozhikode to take this post down which we will NOT do. There is no reason for us to do so. If IIM Kozhikode has a problem with the post they should write a counter to this. However, they are pressurising IIM Bangalore and the author to take it down. InsideIIM is not a journalistic newspaper. All the content on the platform is user generated and curated by us or our student team members.
IIM Kozhikode students have been sending us messages saying they will boycott us. What does that even mean? If someone writes a post that you don’t like on Facebook will you boycott Facebook? If you circulate memes on WhatsApp which you don’t agree with will you boycott WhatsApp? This behaviour is childish and immature. IIM K students are free to do as they please but we won’t be taking down this post unless the author decides to do so – which he has the right to. There are a million productive things to do on campus but IIM Kozhikode students have decided to outrage because their sentiments have been hurt. Facts are fought with facts and not censorship. Students are free to write whatever they feel on InsideIIM as long as it is not abusive and slanderous. The above post is one student’s account of his experience and we don’t see any reason why his freedom of expression should be curtailed.

Kishore Padmanabhan

Yea! It’s weird that inside IIM does not have an option to take down post. We understand the hot market for topics like this 😉 let’s not kid ourselves with this “hey… Facts are fought with facts yo” :’)

Team Insideiim

There is an option. The author can exercise it if he wants to. But we won’t take it down because Kishore, a B-School or any other group of persons don’t like it.

Best of luck contacting FB to take down every post that is supposedly anti your B-School or asking WhatsApp to stop circulating every Meme that pokes fun at your business school.

Ashrav Gupta

Ah FB did not just say they would do more to combat fake news-did they?
Stop giving FB examples everywhere; At least they try
Compare yourself to Breitbat probably

Swati P Anand

Heights of irresponsibility. Are you even a registered company!!! You say- ” The content is the author’s personal opinion”!!!! No, it’s not. Because you have not written any disclaimer stating that the content is not verified by you don’t take any responsibility for the stated facts. There must be your team that verifies what content gets posted on the site and what not. If you really are trying to take the argument of freedom of expression, let me concoct any story on my own whims and fancies about any of the IIMs and then post it on your page. Because, hey it’s my right to express. Let me say that I have witnessed that the professors of certain other IIMs are corrupt( Disclaimer: This is a false statement). But if I want to write this story, you must post it. Understand the ramifications of your actions and to what extremes it can go. If you were a credible company you would understand the law of the land that there are limitations on the fundamental rights given to all of us. It should not violate any of the rights of any other citizen. Facebook is a personal page, not a public website that posts certain articles on its homepage titled as ‘ Featured Post’, and mails the article to every other e-mail id it could extract from numerous sources. You are defaming my institute and me without any credible source of facts. It is a violation of my rights, you know that right? And there is no side for us to present, at least not for me. We won, they lost. Period.

Team Insideiim

@Swati – We absolutely don’t take responsibility for any story not written under our authorship on this platform. We are absolutely sure nor does Facebook, WhatsApp or Twitter. And we are duly sure every FB post doesn’t come with a disclaimer from Mark Zuckerberg that he doesn’t take responsibility. What we do is ensure no one is abused or that there is slander.
‘Understand the ramifications of your actions and to what extremes it can go.’ – Yes. Of course. A sports fest and a handful of people fighting in a sports fest and stories around that fest will lead to the end of civilisation. Thanks for pointing out how our action (or inaction) is leading to extremes like famine and floods and poverty. Owing to this ‘extreme’ event, we suggest a file a defamation suit on the author, the platform and maybe even IIM Bangalore for giving admission to such students. Thank you for showing us the light.

Team Insideiim

At last a sensible response. We agree. Whether cheap publicity or not, IIM K should have just ignored it from the start. You created an issue where there was none. And a dignified mature response to it is definitely not threats to ‘Boycott’ the platform or making rude telephone calls to our team members in Mumbai.

aravinth t

You published an article which was degrading an institute without even checking the facts on your platform and expected the students to ignore that? I was the Sports Secretary of IIM Kozhikode during Sangram 16 and If I write a similar article degrading IIM Bangalore the same way, will you publish the same? If I mention that even after IIM K won Gold in Throw Ball at IIM Bamgalore where the refs were arranged by Bangalore, IIM B came back asking for a re match, will your response be the same? Let’s not kid ourselves shall we? We know why you are doing this. No point arguing with a bunch of losers and I’m not just talking about IIM B here. Don’t bother replying since I’m pretty sure Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t reply to every post degrading FB.

Team Insideiim

@Aravinth – The author stands by what he has written. There is no reason for us to believe as a platform that your truth is more true than his. Our job is to give everyone a chance to express. It’s just that your sentiments are very delicate which can aroused at the slightest provocation. Since we haven’t achieved FB’s scale we have the advantage of being able to engage with every user and comment posted on our platform. We consider it a privilege.

aravinth t

Please read your own comments and check if any of that actually makes sense. You keep comparing yourself with FB, whatsapp and stuff and say FB doesn’t do this, FB does this and so on and when prompted with a question you end up saying “we haven’t achieved FB’s scale”. I mean if you can comment on every single thing why can’t you post a disclaimer on every article? Fine I’m agree with your statement “There is no reason for us to believe as a platform that your truth is more true than his” but you haven’t answered my question yet. I will write an article on Sangram 16 where IIM B did everything they can to ensure their victory, will you publish it in your platform or not? If you really care about the freedom of speech then I see no reason why you shouldn’t publish it?

Team Insideiim

Absolutely @aravinth – We will welcome any story from you – it shouldn’t be abusive and slanderous. Usual filters around racism, religious enmity etc. also apply. As long as you fulfil this criteria you can write about anything and everything under the sun.

aravinth t

I have faced many such issues when I was the Sports Secretary which is why I didn’t give a second thought to this article. I never expected Bangalore to be such losers anyway I only started commenting after reading your comments which I felt was completely irresponsible. What I want you to realize is that you have a responsibility towards the students and the institutes. Please take them seriously. Yes freedom of speech and stuff apart you could at least verify the facts or post a disclaimer. I just read another article titled “Should IIM Kozhikode Boycott FAcebook as well?” were you have mentioned that “People come to InsideIIM because they believe the content here is worthwhile for their studies” please realize what that actually means and what is your responsibility towards them. Please understand that we are not against Freedom of Speech or anything as you are trying to portray this whole incident but rather voicing our opinion on a degrading article written about our institute with 0 facts. You have also threatened that IIM K students interning with you might be asked to resign which is just cowardly and goes against your stand of openly supporting freedom of speech I mean anyone can boycott any website for that matter. Going forward requesting you to act more responsibly towards the students and the institutes. Don’t disappoint us again.

Team Insideiim

Don’t misunderstand dear Aravinth – we aren’t asking anyone to resign. We love working with our two IIM K student team members. Its the call for boycott by the IIM K students and media committee that may force them to resign. Not us. We would love them to continue and complete their internship with us.

Ravi Sonagra

The way IIM K students are replying, it makes me believe that what Amol Aranake(IIM B) has written is true.
P.S. I am not paid or told by anyone to post this. So don’t come with Kejriwal kind of argument.

Sutanu Chattopadhyay

Great Deduction, Man!
In many cases, Dictators post certain figures about their regime. The public protests as they are all false. The dictator says because the public is protesting against my statements makes me more correct.

Anyways, great deduction and logic.

aravinth t

Dude seriously? Let’s have a mature discussion shall we? Let’s say after losing Sangram last year IIM K posted a similar degrading article about IIM Bangalore with 0 facts, would Bangalore have not reached in the same way? If you say No, then you are lying to yourself. Posting something completely degrading and saying IIM k won because they cheated and not people the students worked hard for their victory and arguing that the way they are reacting makes me wonder if this is true I mean isn’t this the Kejriwal kind of argument that you don’t want to have in the first place?

aravinth t

To both the IIM K and IIM B student community let’s just move on. The purpose of Sangram was not just to determine the winners but rather to build a bond of friendship. I was the sports secretary of IIM K during Sangram 16 were we lost to IIM B. Yes it was tough, acepting defeat was not easy but the bonds and friendship that was forged during the heat of the battle was worth it. I’m sure Paldeep (IIM B sports sec during Sangram 16) will agree. See these are just small things in life but once you move outside the closed enclosures of your respective campus you will realize that the only thing that actually matters is bond that you have made during the course of 2 years. Whether you have won Sangram or not doesn’t matter, sure it might hurt your pride a bit but then that’s it. It’s not going to help you in anyway. Let go of all this hatred and lets all work together towards a better future.

Nitin Sehgal

Why such sports event actually matter? Does it affect your college brand? I guess not. Such events are just to promote non academic activities between various B-Schools for fun n frolic. A platform to engage with other students. Such things will surely teach you that corporate world is too like this, where you will face such biasness, favourtism etc. instead of a place where everyone will play fair and clean tactics.

IIM K winning 10+ golds or any one else. It won’t really impact the branding of college.