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?


Eliza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eliza said...

Whatever you have written is very well expressed. And I concur with you on the point of letting the non-performing politicians face the people's wrath.

But I dont agree with you on certain other points. The Indian cricket stars are a pampered lot. Do any other sportsmen get such adulation? Even the government gives them preferential treatment, like waiving taxes on exotic gifts like Ferrari cars.

Look at Viswanathan Anand, recently declared world chess champ number 1. The media barely mentioned him in passing.

It may not be the cricketers' fault, but the public made them stars, and the public is let down when they perform badly. These stars owe us something, feels the public.

Which in no way justifies the destructive behaviour of some wild fans.

The public however is crazy - we are a nation of cricket obsessed maniacs, no doubt about that. The kind of statistics churned out - "The bowler in the fourth ball of the sixth over of the second innings in the first match against a visting team took four steps only for the run in - and that is a world record!" - grrrr, absolutely maddening.

Leave the players alone to follow what is after all only a game, and they might perform.

Anonymous said...

Well, they are only burning effigies...

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with the sentiments of the blog, in that we Indians seem to have no perspective. But then maybe cricket in India has become like football in Europe.

I think its just difficult for us long-standing cricket enthusiasts like us to comprehend this new frenzy and madness.

I resolve not to watch one-day cricket anymore for this very reason, and then m drawn to it like an alcoholic to the bottle!!


Karthik Narayan said...

Sports & violence have locked horns before - Escobar is a name that readily comes to mind. he was stabbed to death as he "headed" an own goal in the world cup (not sure i think it was 94). Football in the European countries is just as bad as cricket in the Asian subcontinent, though I'm not sure Sri Lankans are such hooligans as Indians or Pakis.

I find it disgressing and disturbing to note that the maxim continues - cricketers and movie stars become demi gods in this country, and life ticks with their heartbeats, their lifestyles... the brands they endorse...

I agree with you on this subject, and I am in the same mould. In fact, cricinfo's sambit bal has come out with a rather aggressive writeup on the same subject - Just in case you are interested in reading that... here goes -