Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Cricket : Only Make or Break?

Why does cricket bring out the worst in our characters? Why is there such a disproportionate involvement in the outcome of the World Cup matches? Why is there such an exaggerated display of public idolatry? It is matched only by the equally huge waves of hatred against fallen idols when they fail to perform. Why does the public need icons whom they can love and hate at the same time?

The miserably tasteless and jingoistic TV commercials in the run up to the World Cup are followed by an outpouring of wrath and hatred against team members at the first defeat that they suffer. Everything is larger than life. The emotions, from euphoria to rage, are unnaturally overplayed and expectations from the players are exaggerated. Undoubtedly, the players should do their best; they should play honestly and honourably, and above all, for the sake of the team and the country. Let's pause and remember that it is a game, and that victory and
defeat can surprise any of the teams!

There is this tidal wave of hatred and violence against the absent cricketers and sometimes there are attacks upon their homes. The burning of effigies and posters has now become such a thing of routine that it is almost considered acceptable behaviour! Scathing and vituperative remarks are aired everywhere about the volume of earnings of each player from endorsements. Allegations that a player's attentions were all diverted towards his endorsement campaigns are aired freely and resentful comments are made about the 'lavish' lifestyles of these 'stars cricketers'. It reflects very poorly on the Indian national character.

Why do the television news channels give so much coverage to the screaming, outraged men who burn effigies and posters in a wild ecstasy of rage? It is a frightening image. There is an ugly aggression in the men as they turn upon symbols of the absent targets of their emotion. These are probably men who brawl and beat their wives, or terrorise all the members of their families in their little tin pot kingdoms at home where their victims shiver and shuffle around them, dreading their displeasure and submitting to the misery of routine oppression.

A cricketer who plays for the Indian team does earn a lot of money but the public doesn’t pay for it all. Why not turn this inner rage and frustration against those who must learn to fear it? This anger is dangerously destructive and it betrays an inner sense of inadequacy and under achievement. It should be sublimated into a positive energy which is directed against evil forces that can and should be eradicated from our social and political environments. I'm talking about those who are elected to public office, who promise to work for the public good, and who are paid from taxpayer's money. Why doesn’t the public react with righteous rage when these 'stars' cheat and rob and fail to perform at every occasion?