This is Soumya Bhattacharya (left, author of a recently released book on cricket, name of which escapes me as I came in late!) and Dileep Ramachandran (right, Cricinfo.com) in discussion on "Writing about Sport" at the David Sassoon Library as part of the Kala Ghoda festival. The panelists decried the death of excellence in sports writing. Names invoked included the late KN Prabhu and Rajan Bala, both veteran sports scribes who had legions of followers. Cricket columns today are ghost-written by someone exactly that - a ghost - for a celebrity ex-player and sponsored by a corporate entity. So can there be any fairness? No, methinks!
Today sports has been hijacked by the glamor brigade, wearing - sphagetti tops, what else? The panelists felt that the quality of sports writing, especially cricket writing has gone down. Television coverage is partly to blame, as reporters and commentators are told to get the juicy bits of gossip into their coverage. Well, they have TRP rates to maintain and that's why they are in the business after all.
Also there is a humungous amount of cricket being played at the risk of life and limb of the players. Recently I saw a huge picture in the newspaper showing where all Sachin had fractures, poor chap! I certainly wouldn't want my fractures, and injuries (especially those around the heart) to be part of newspaper readers' daily fix at the breakfast table. But with stakes so high, can we blame the players or the people who keep the game going?
While we raise sportsmen on a pedestal, watch a nation go berserk over a single win, though we lose the series, let us ask if we are encouraging other sports such as football, volleyball, hockey etc. Bureaucracy is also to blame as where in the world would one find a politician heading a sports governing body, except in India. Sharad Pawar and Jagmohan Dalmia, please note.
Soumya Bhattacharya reading from his book.