18th June 2017 was a historical day for the worshippers of Cricket in India who eats, talk and walk cricket. It was also my best friend’s wedding but almost all the guests who had to be there when they would rather be glued to their television were just talking about the match and checking out the scores on their smartphones. Their minds could only concentrate on the “pheras” after India lost the match to Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy.
The next day was not any less historic. It is very rare that you get to overhear about any other sport than Cricket in the office bays, around the coffee machine, in the cafeteria, in the smoking zone, etc. None of us gave a damn about the Indian hockey team winning the Hockey World League Semi-finals, until when India lost the Champions trophy to Pakistan. If by any chance you have got Bengali or Malayali colleagues, then you can also hear the word Football every once in a while.
In India, cricket is not looked at as sport but as an emotion, a religion. No kid wants to be Dhyan Chand when they grow up, they wouldn’t even know who that is. Everyone wants to be Tendulkar. The shiny glamor quotient of this “Gentleman’s game” has flash blinded the people, so they are unable to appreciate any other sports.
Earlier, people would listen to the live commentaries of the ongoing hockey matches. They would also take the pain to go see the boxing or kabaddi matches happening in their locality. But, how people look at the other sports drastically changed after the Indian cricket team won the World Cup of 1983.
Some parents in the country spend their hard earned money to send their kid to a cricket academy. Although when Abhinav Bindra won a gold medal for shooting in the Olympics, parents got a bit inclined to put their kids into other individual sports. However, that did not last very long. Unfortunately, even the echoes of “Chak de” were barely audible above the echoes of “Sachin, Sachin!!”. People in the cricket stadium use the term “Chak de India” more than they do in Hockey or any other sports ground.
It is as if, no other sport is worth celebrating, appreciating, or even playing. Even the cricketers are replacing actors from the advertising industries. Due to the dawn of IPL, the glamor world of cricket has become even brighter, luring in more of the younger crowd. They see it as an easy way to get money and fame. While the sports authorities spend Crores of money in cricket, the plight of sportspersons of other sports in India is unheard by the authorities. Many medal winners of various other sports are seen selling their medals for earning bread and butter for their family. The Kabaddi champions have become vegetable vendors, whereas wrestlers have become police inspectors, and sprinters are seen selling golgappas in the street to earn money.
They are not asking for a brand endorsement, nor do they want someone to bid a huge amount of money on them to get them in their teams. All they want is enough concern from the sports authorities of India, so they can pursue their dream of playing the sports of their choice and making the nation proud again.