Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sportsmen or Showmen?

Why do we, the whole one billion of us, rank so low in sports? Looking at our films and ads filled with those well-toned, and muscle-rippling youth one would think we are a nation of athletic young men, and women who shouldn't do so dismally when it comes to wielding a stick or a bat.

We rank 136th in 204 football playing nations, 11th in 12 hockey playing nations, and about cricket I don't know (though, I play cricket I am not so crazy about following it as I get upset watching our country lose, and so badly at that), may be, in the bottom of the heap. Every four years, one billion people wait with bated breath for an odd silver or bronze medal in the Olympics, while a country like Cameroon wins two golds and a bronze. A collective hanging of heads is, perhaps, advisable here.

I don't accept the argument that there is a lack of talent. No. I have seen talented cricket players giving up their fight. Ravi Kulkarni was a talented player from my locality and he vanished without a trace and so did Abey Kuruvilla. Their careers were rather short.

Or, is it that we are a nation of pretenders, who build up their bulges to be "macho-looking" for the cameras and not for what these muscles are meant, i.e., put it to grueling tests on the sports field, the real tests of brawn these days. Don't believe me? Watch those gladiators battling each other on the football field. There are fans screaming, singing, hooting, waving little, long balloons, even painting themselves for their teams. And their heroes deliver.

My grouse with our cricketers is that they aren't sportsmen (except a few), and more of showmen. Hmm, that may also be the reason they fail so dismally on the field. Watch their carefully groomed attitudes, watch their camera consciousness. "Yaar, mein kaisa lag raha tha teevee par?" (Friend, how did I look on television?)

I really wonder if they do it for the sake of the sport or for getting the advertisement endorsement opportunities, trophy girlfriends, and may be later get on television wearing a tie, to say glib things like, "It is a batting pitch, there is a little grass, and a lot of moisture on the grass, what do you say Sunny?"
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