Posts Tagged ‘Cricket’

The Good, Bad and the Ugly World Cup……

April 11, 2011

Indian Team: World Champions

Yes folks, it has finally happened. India is the champion of the World Cup Cricket! An incredible feat from the men in blue, a great augmentation of national pride, a long cherished desire finally achieved, an awesome expression of a wannabe super power nation in the world stage!

A lot has been written/spoken/televised about the greatness of this win. We all know the “Good” part of the world cup. I am a huge sports enthusiast and for me it is surely a moment to be deeply satisfied for not only the game was good; my team – my country has won it. We all know the “Good” part of this world cup. I am happy that I saw it in my lifetime and it happened when I cheered for them with my friends- over my favorite pizza and my favorite drinks.

But then if you ask me what is top most sporting success that I have witnessed in my 30 years’ lifetime on this planet as an Indian, then unfortunately I would not be able to rate this world cup victory as my top moment. That would be Indian women’s relay teams’ 4×400 meter victory in the Commonwealth Games of 2010 at New Delhi’s JLN stadium. There is something spectacularly visual about seeing your team out-sprint the much stronger sides (like Nigeria, UK, Canada and Australia). You don’t need 6 weeks and 8 hours each day to see your team through to the podium.

And as soon as Dhoni lofted the final six of the game and a huge pandemonium broke out- an absolute orgy of nationalism and chest thumping. And that is where my gripe with this huge hoopla around the World Cup victory starts to surface.

The winning moment

For last seven days the newspapers, tv channels and every media front end is just catering to this hoopla. This is the “Bad” world cup. When all traffic goes one way, you can be sure there will be a traffic snarl. With every penny, every dime and every dollar going cricket’s way I wonder why would someone ever pick up that javelin, that bow and arrow, that oar, that racquet, that football, that cycle, that running shoes and worse of all that hockey stick (the moronic national game, remember?)!

The money on the table for cricket is a sky-high mound as compared to the other “less than important” sports. Your son plays for Ranji and plays for IPL then his base price starts at 2 million. Your son wins a world cup- gets millions in prize, land in premium locations, frontpage picture, even you get an interview….etc-etc. But if your daughter wins a gold medal defeating all powerful international challenges, gets 500 grands and a place in 11th page of the newspaper. Why would someone play other games?

If we want a sporting nation, a nation that wins sporting events then we cannot afford to keep all eggs in one basket- read just fuel cricket. Money distribution is always a zero sum game. You spend more on clothes; you spend less on food- simple. You spend huge on cricket and miniscule on athletics- you never win athletics. As a sports loving person, I am pained to see that we just got a little farther away from the wholesome sporting culture by going top heavy on cricket.

A friend of mine who trains with Indian national cycling team laughed when I told him that Indian cricket team has million dollar pay-cheque psychiatrists who tells the boys how to cry on his shoulder when they drop a catch to recover quick. He said- “The national cyclists don’t even have their own cycling jerseys which cost a few thousands”.  The “Bad” world cup is this. A nail in the coffin for other inferior sports for they have no money to bury their own bodies.

But there is one part, which completely disgusted me over the past few days. How can we equate a sporting event with national pride? The media and the public attitude towards the game of India vs Pakistan was such as if we were at war. As if losing was not an option. The corporate and the media have played a great hand on the naive middle class of this country. We have been made to believe that it is a matter of national pride to decimate our opponents on the 22 yards. Just 22 yards- never has been the concept of nationalism so narrow.

Indian vs Pakistan: Nationalism or Sports

What about our famed national pride which is battered and bruised and beaten black and blue and made to bleed blue in all the Olympic games for last 100 years? But then why would the guy with the cash care? The more cups Dhoni lifts, the more the middle class will drink, the more will they eat, the more will they wear, the more will the cash counters ring! So, the concoction continued to be passed around, each party pleasurably scratching other.

The great Indian middle class, that has the aspirations of a developed nation and therefore deems it as a right to have a sporting identity in the international arena and is ready to play this dangerous game of nationalistic fervor for a sports run by a body that has no government funding, no democratic process, not even a respectable track record of honesty! Is that what a country needs for its desperate nationalism- a bunch of vandals and corrupt leeches? This is the “Ugly” world cup.

The other ugly part is religion-izing of cricket. To make it look like a crusade. To turn our cricketers into demi gods (one is already elevated to the god’s place); this is dangerous.

Finally, look at this from a neutral angle. We laugh at American University Football’s world cup. But at least there are 200 teams there. Here, a cricket world cup has 6 teams (come on, don’t refute that by citing the fly by night teams like Ireland and Canada etc). Its like a mega soap opera with just a handful of actors (read nations) becoming evil, saintly, great, nasty etc at different times. Can you wear a world-beater image in say Indonesia? China? Japan? Germany? They have never played cricket- and never will.

So, the only place where we can carry our jingoistic world-beater image is Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh? Did you see the ugly nationalism being passed in your blue drink?

Savor this fantastic victory but if we really want to become a sporting nation, the nation that wins medals and laurels in really well participated sports events, we need to cut short this cricket craziness and embrace other sports. Otherwise we give in to this greed of naked nationalism and end up looking as clueless as some Poonam Pandey!

Ponam Pandey: The girl who double guessed everyone


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