Sunday, June 14, 2009

A word to the Indian Cricket 'fan'

Alright. So the Indian bid to retain their ‘World Championship’ of the T20 Cricket cup is over. I, for one, actually am not too bothered by it since I had somehow seen it coming. Maybe it was the ridiculously inhumane and robotic schedule that money mongers like Modi Inc. made for our youngsters to slave their bottoms off at the IPL. Or maybe that we, the cricket crazy janta, have somehow managed to replace our cricketers of flesh and bones to be metamorphosed into mere sources for our perverse and rabid entertainment. Something to scream and cuss at with our own beer bellies hanging loose over crowded plates of buttered tandoori chicken while carelessly passing judgments on everyone. Either way my premonition has come true. The Indian cricket team, thanks to either overworked schedules or over-hyped media frenzy, has rightfully gotten out of this rat race.

The one thing which does bother me, though, is this. Now, I have had my share of globe trotting and sure, I have taken in my share of sports around the world. But nowhere have I seen the kind of extremist emotion towards a sport like we do in India. If the team wins, they have the best combination of batsmen and bowlers going to bat and bowl at the right times and heck, we will even applaud the fellow who takes an easy catch as the 12th man. Huzzah! All is well with our lives as we go around patting each other on the back and claiming to be number one. But if, O for the love of all that is Holy and Divine, if…that same team with the same batting and bowling order happens to lose a game – well well well. We just about cuss their entire family tree without a single shred of remorse in those very eyes that cried tears of joy on their victory.

Now with the boon that the Internet has transformed into, we have found a way to let it fly. Back in the days when there was no source for us to vent out our anger, we used to choose our friends, colleagues and other people in our radius to blow off the steam. But no…India is too clever now. Now we go out of our way to hide behind pseudo-names and throw large bricks of filthy lingo towards the same set of humans who we had given the demi-God status not less than a week ago with garlands of flower around their posters. The only difference is the same garland has been strewn with slippers and boot polish.

What does this say about us? Does it mean that we are so hopelessly inconsistent with our definition of ‘team support’ that the words we choose to express ourselves with keeps shifting from ‘Hail thy Holy name blessed one!’ to ‘To hell with thy mother and every other seed born from her unholy nether region!’? Does it not bother us that the levels to which we will ‘express’ our anger goes beyond human decency? If so, then how can we call this ‘team support’? Shouldn’t a real fan be someone who appreciates the game, applauds the spirit of it, accepts the team’s short comings and wishes them the best for the next attempt? Shouldn’t a genuine follower be someone who understands the kind of pressure those 11 odd boys would be under as millions of eyes stare fixedly at their every move – judging them, labeling them, criticizing them, cussing them and worse, disrespecting their every effort? Shouldn’t a real enthusiast of the team and game find the character to shrug off the defeat and say ‘Ah well. There is always tomorrow’ and move on while trying to see what went wrong and how it can be addressed? How can we possibly sit at our computer screens and decide who should have gone at 1 down or 4 down when we haven’t played even a single International game ourselves? Is just spending some time of our otherwise mundane life to watch the game enough to give us the right to spit shamelessly at these boys who are out there representing – well, US! Is that what democracy really means? To be given the freedom to treat our sportsmen like Gods one day and garbage the next? I don’t know what the answer is, but it just seems wrong. It seems radically askew a theory that just doesn’t fit into the scheme of things that India is so jingoistic about all the time.

I was reading somewhere on a blog that the reason why cricket has become such a big deal in India is because of its escapist relief giving mechanism that allows a hungry, frustrated, tired, vain, disgusted and absolutely hopeless individual to find some momentary respite in his/her life. Sometimes I feel that is still the gloomy truth. That there still exists that vein in our country that looks for cricket (and trust me, no other sport has this level of allure in India) as a medicine to heal its many many wounds by subjecting those 11 men to the acid test out of which they either come out unscathed or as charred carcasses.

There was a time when, as a youngster, I always wondered how cool it would be to be a part of the Indian cricket team. Ah! The glory! But after having read the many colorful abuses of ‘fans’ on several message boards and blogs with their own shade of cut throat criticism, I find myself throwing myself at God thanking Him that He didn’t give me the chance to be anywhere near that hell hole. A spot of unabridged monstrosity that is such a rollercoaster ride that I genuinely salute those brave boys who go out there day in day out and sweat off their skin to keep us happy. To keep us proud and smiling. To be one of those few Indians who actually managed to do something more than just hurl abuses at one another while wiping off chicken grease from their wrinkled shirts. In that minute essence of their presence and in that small spot light of courage – I salute their spirit. It is there, that winning and losing loses definition. It is there, that a team supporter goes beyond just shouting at sixes and spitting at run outs and becomes a constant source of energy from where the boys can find rejuvenation the next time they enter the battlefield. It is then, only then, can Indian teams of every sport find a reason to perform better each time.

Until then, let the verse party continue.

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