Cricket: Opium for the Masses. . .
It is high time that we now underscore the importance of cricket in our national sports and lay emphasis on other games and sports. I am saying this not only because the Indian Cricket Team is losing at home and Test Matches do not exist in the team’s vocabulary. I am also saying this because the entire sports of cricket has been monetized in such a crass manner, that cricketers no longer play for the country but play for the money. Otherwise how would explain one of the cricketers making brash statements in Kolkata recently, during the event of a book lunch, complaining about the food served and comparing it with what is dished out in IPL matches.
There can be just no comparison between the cricketing association of a state and the IPL. If the cricketer wants better fare to be served to him, I think he might just latch on to IPL only for their life. Such public venting of private feelings is totally uncalled for by a cricketer of the stature and importance of Virendra Sehwag.
India is consistently playing badly in Test Matches. This is because cricket has become lucre, and the source of inspiration is not playing well for the country but playing well for money. It is a shame that so much national waste is going to cricket when people in the country cannot earn a square meal a day. Cricketers are demi-gods and everything about cricket is a new found avatar, especially because of IPL and the shorter version of cricket.
Gone also are the days when cricket was a gentleman’s game meant not only for the connoiseurs but also in some cases the erudite. A former Captain of England Mike Brearly was not only a graduate of philosophy from one of the leading Universities of the world, but was a voracious reader of serious books.
Now let us look at the sport scene in the country apart from cricket.
India’s performance in the recent Olympics and the last Commonwealth Games need not only to be lauded but also amply show that our sports persons in the areas of boxing, wrestling, shooting, even in sprint events have both the talent and the ability. They need further encouragement and some more material benefits. Most of the sports persons come from middle class or lower middle class income groups and it is the bounden duty of the government to follow up on their lives and to further train them.
If foreign coaches can be imported for cricket then I fail to understand why the same cannot be the case for other sports.
Recently, during the Champions Trophy the Captain of the Indian Hockey Team said that Indian Hockey was on the road to recovery. Will anyone take the words of a Hockey player seriously? I also read that Leander Paes has won about eighteen or nineteen Grand Slam titles. How much do our public and the media talk about it?
If we are to look at sports development in the country in a more holistic and concerted manner we have to institute sports academies like that of China to catch them young and then train budding sports men for years. Sports should also be an integral part of education, allying it with vocational education or separately sports education. Then only can we think of a more total development in sports, instead of only singling out cricket and making it opium for the masses. The Cricket Control Board of India is the riches in the world. They have enough money. Let them continue to do their bit to promote cricket. But let the other sports also take the front seat as they truly deserve and let sports academies be set up for them in a rationalistic manner with an eye for the future.
And this future should be on a long term basis.
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Ananya S Guha
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