Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Overtly Sung Saga of Beaten Heroes

7:45 a.m. I am passing the shops on sideways on my way to the station and I overhear a few people excitedly enquiring and discussing about some cricket match which is going to be played today. It doesn’t bother me much to even find out what trophy is it or how does the score tally looks like or to be honest which teams are playing and where is it being played. I walk on. I board the regular morning local to Vashi Station. It’s completely jam packed and hardly has any space to adjust my limbs in a more comfortable posture. But despite that I see a few more enthusiasts giving expert predictions and opinions on (I presume) the same cricket match. Their gestures, expressions and involvement would make one feel that they were being paid a handsome amount to do that job. But as of now this was of least concern, as I am desperately waiting for my destination, meanwhile striving to rise a little higher on my toes to get a whiff of fresh air. To my relief, I dint have to bear the suffocation for long as my goal was to travel to a station hardly 15 mins from my place. As a daily ritual, I have a cup of strong tea at my regular snacks outlet and moved towards the boarding point. I see another bunch of office colleagues discussing about (I presume again) the same cricket match. I think, lets not be so oblivious and at least find out about the match which is creating such a buzz amongst everyone. If not for the results, then at least to keep myself updated with the current happenings.

As it turns out, it’s another test match India is playing to regain their lost form. The discussion just doesn’t seem to end and as we board the bus, I can see a few other people doing the same drill in their own corners. “They should remove Sehwag from the team” said one, to which the other agreed “yes! He should. He hasn’t done his job well in so many matches”. Another Bong comes up with a suggestion, “They should bring our Dada back in team, Dravid is too slow and placid for a captain.” I see a few head’s poping up from different direction to get a closer look at the guy who made that statement. Others in the group being anti Ganguly retaliated “You crazy to get that nerd back in the team???”, “Why not?” the Bong replied, “He has had a successful track record as the Captain of Indian team” to which someone passed a comment “and an even more successful end” and they burst into laughter. Anyways, I am having my share of fun being a spectator. I hold myself back from pooling in my suggestion to ban the entire Indian team from playing International cricket, as that would have got a few ardent fans really agitated.

I reached office and fond my cubicle mates already abusing Sehwag, who got out even before I walked down to my cubicle from the entrance. That was pretty quick and I couldn’t control myself from laughing on their faces, but their expressions were quite cold as though seriously hurt by my reaction. So without irritating them any further I just switched on my desktop and began my days work. It was soon time for lunch and I headed for the canteen with my colleague, who is pretty much not too keen in cricket either. To my surprise, I saw people heading straight for the television sets rather than checking out the menu for the day. Most of them were hovering with their plates on the tables closer to the TV set. By then the Indian squad had swapped its role and were all scattered on the field. As usual, they were being criticized on every table for their inefficiency and their involvement in endorsing products more than concentrating on the game. I finished my meal and resumed my work, even though most of the faces I had seen when I came to the canteen were still stuck up on the screen. In the evening I saw them again hooked on the sets and in the evening while returning back home, it was a repeat telecast of the entire match being broadcasted verbally by numerous fans in the bus.

The scenario remaining pretty much the same till the time India lost the series and people started identifying the Indian side as pathetic and hopeless. The news and television media was firing cannonballs of criticism on the players, our ex-superstars gathering on a round table giving their expert views, which is the only option majority retired players end up choosing other than opening a restaurant to keep their bank balances buzzing with activity, the cartoonists getting a good theme on their upcoming section in the daily prints. The 24 hour news channels dint have anything more productive to be telecasted, so they hung on to this story for hours and days till they got some other piece of news which more or less qualified for achieving the status of “Breaking News”, just because it was able to break the monotony the viewers watching the same news over n over again for hours.

But shortly, in no time India is in for another series and people just seem to have buried all their traumas and rushed back to their television sets despite having a pre-conceived notion that only some miraculous performance might be able to save them from witnessing another replay. And yet again, after the expected results people again get back home all frustrated about the performance the team had delivered. There is no doubt about the lack in conviction and determination which our side displays on the green field. But are they the only ones to be blamed for the entire tattered picture? NO!!! We are equally responsible for encouraging them to continue with their awful performances, taking the sentiments of millions of viewers for granted. Large amount of money is being spent on this game through different channels and at a point the player starts looking at it as a money minting machine more than taking a pride in representing the entire nation on international front. There are other sportsmen in the country being neglected on all fronts and their sport getting overshadowed by the larger than life status of cricket in our country.

The print media is just concerned about glamorizing the stars of this sport, trying to get into each and every unwanted detail of their personal lives rather than taking some pains and foregrounding the true picture and status of sports in our nation. There have been medal winners for our nation who are still struggling hard to earn themselves one meal for the day. The other sports are bearing a heavy price too. They do not have sufficient grants to provide the players basic infrastructure and facilities to transcend them onto higher level competitions. Long back, I had seen a documentary on this particular subject, where it was really disturbing to see an ex-hockey player of our country in his old age, living in a meager shanty in come remote village talking about his golden days as an international hockey player representing our nation. Despite the unfortunate circumstances he was living in, he was still very enthusiastic while narrating his experiences in the past. To add to his excitement, he went inside his small hut and emerged out after a minute, clearing the layer of dust off the pile of medals n trophies with a small broom. He said that the government had promised him a grant of five thousand rupees, which till date he hasn’t received. He literally fell into tears explaining the starving days he and his family has been going through as a price of winning medals for his nation.

Its high time people should abandon unnecessary and redundant information being broadcasted on the television and the useless gossip being printed in newspapers. Media is one powerful medium which can bring about revolutionary change in the entire nation. But, over the period, it is loosing its entire meaning. There is large amount of money being spent on the game of Cricket and this is directly inhibiting the growth of other potential sports in our country. It’s not about winning or loosing the series they take part in, but their enthusiasm level and the effort is below the standards of a professional team attaining the international status. Too much of media intervention and the politics catching fire in the management are hampering the true spirit of sports.

When I express these views to a few ardent cricket fans, they come up with a positive perspective of the entire scenario, claiming their loyalty as a sign of “Faith and Hope” they have on our side. Is it Hope or Hopelessness, that we devote our faith in people who least value it, people who’re more concerned about everything other than sports, people who are overshadowing the hidden talents which are worth our dedicated loyalty?

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