Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Lets be a sport....

Yesterday, NDTV aired a story on how sportspersons who have represented India internationally in various sports (and who are employed by the Indian Railways) have been reduced to managing car parking outside New Delhi station. While it was absolutely shocking to hear that, it was another story in an ongoing controversy i.e. cricket v/s all other sports. While this rivalry, and the feeling of step-motherly treatment nurtured by other sportsmen has always been around, ever since that nearly vulgar display of celebrations post the T20 win, the battle between cricketers and the rest has come sharply into focus. It began with the state governments and associations awarding cash prizes as if there was no tomorrow. Then some of the hockey players threatened a hunger strike against the double standards shown by the administrators when it came to appreciating success in cricket as compared to others. In between, Viswanathan Anand added his own cheque-mate move, quipping about the reception he expected to get on landing home after the World Championship win. All in all, the events of the past month would not have bought to the genuine Indian sports-lover.

But if you really ask yourself, how many genuine Indian sports-lovers are there ? And who is to blame for the sad state of neglect that all Indian sports still find themselves in ? (including hockey, even after Chak de !?) We might point the fingers at the governments, corporate sponsors and the media for glorifiying cricket at the expense of other sports, but it is equally true that we ourselves are party to this preferential treatment. Some time back, an opinion poll on NDTV showed that 86% of people felt that the media was not fair in its coverage of cricket vis-à-vis other sports. But is it just the media, or is its audience also to blame ? How many of us watched the Asia Cup Hockey final that we won just a few days before the T20 win ? Or atleast read the newspapers the next day to know who scored the winning goals ? Indeed, how many of us know who is India’s current hockey captain is ? To expect the corporates to sponsor a hockey match that nobody watches is, in my opinion, a bit too much. And I am not preaching here. I take the blame for the neglect that other sports find themselves in. Today, about 40000 people in my city have packed themselves at the Wankhede to see a match which has little relevance to the series. Till the time we start to care about football and volleyball and badminton, things will never change.

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