Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Death of a Sport? (Cricket, I Mean)


Yesterday I read Santosh Desai's column in the Times of India. He is good. He does a brilliant analysis of IPL as a sport and I admire for the way he dissected his subject and presented the facts. But it left me deeply disappointed. Ugh!

First of all, he mentions that India is the only country where auction is done for players publicly. (I thought it was the norm, stupid me.) So India being the only country doing public auction of players with number tags, and all, I do not understand the significance of what sports has become – an auction house by any chance. The Sotheby of cricket? I think it's against public morality in this day and age to auction actual people. I think the human rights commission should take this up.

Secondly, he succinctly he brings the issue of entertainment taking over a sport. I don't think there are cheergirls and leaders in cricket matches anywhere in the world. So this must be another new trend that India (or, whoever is in charge of IPL) brought about. I mean, the importing of white-skinned girls from U.S.A. and Russia – where they don't play the game at all – dumb! How daft can we get? No wonder the girls look so confused when they emerge from their underground bunker to do their Bollywood number. "Whatcha they gone and done this time, mate?"

So, this is all about the new star system in sports (read: cricket) and also about how this sport is now an entertainment (read: cheergirls, public auction, lights, camera, action!) and, of course, I forgot about sex. Yes, sex, which sports star is dating which Bollywood actor, who is who's girl friend, and who is in an arrangement of convenience with whom.  Who is the tycoon team owner's secret girl friend?

All this is very well. The disappointment came because the title asks "Death of a sport?" and Desai conveniently sidesteps the issue in the concluding paragraph by writing something like:

"The number of activities deemed to be entertainment run into millions, while the number of activities accepted by sport and followed by any significant number of people can be counted on one's fingers. Sport is vastly entertaining but it is much more than a format of entertainment. Sport generates money, but it is much more than a financial engine. The battle between these two competing visions of the future of sport is being played out right here in India. If the IPL succeeds in its present form, it will challenge not just other formats of cricket, but the very idea of sport. Consider it, for what it is worth, as India's gift to the world."

That's all? "Consider it as India's gift to the world." As safe a conclusion as any. Here is this abominable and worst-ever trend to come across a sport that people love and the writer is suggesting that it is a "gift" to the world? Oh God! The author seems to be in a hurry not to antagonize anybody, be safe, all's well, you know, nothing amiss. Let the sport die, who bothers, you know, let them have their fun.

At least the journalist who subbed the article has had the good sense to give it a cynical title "Death of a Sport [see the question mark after the statement, haha, some kind of journalistic tongue-in-cheek this]?" Consider my answer as being in the affirmative.

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