So India has won the Asia Cup 2007. Suddenly hockey is big news. Personally I think ‘Chak De’ starring SRK had much to do with it than any actual hockey-play . But if hockey is big news, turns out cricket is bigger news….any day. Despite losing the series to England 4-3 (it could have been worse), the Indian cricket team still hogs a good one and a half page in a national daily. The step-motherly treatment meted out to hockey is glaring. I am frankly tired of the cricket-hockey debate and hearing the no money, no promotion, no interest arguments again and again.
Since I wasn’t moving forward on that front (the arguments follow a circular trend remember…) I decided to go a little back in time and trace the historical roots of the monopoly cricket enjoys in the Indian sports scene. Somewhere I feel we Indians have never let go of the British colonial legacy. The “ Angrez chale gaye, Angrezi chod gaye” sentiment can be broadened to understand our preferences in the lingual as well as sports sphere. Sure, gulli danda is very much our own, but lets face it, gulli danda is more in the league of Kabbadi than a glitzy World Cup. Thus if the blessed British General in Lagaan had challenged local boy Aamir Khan to a game of hockey rather than cricket, things may have turned out differently, and I am not referring to the outcome of the match( Bollywood never really outgrew its ‘happy ending’ obsession)
Following this train of thought, once cricket acquired the whole ‘imported’ tag there was no looking back. This partially or quarterly explains why today an average Indian understands the implications of a ‘sixer’ (pun unintended) than the nuances of a penalty corner. Consequently the media can be hardly blamed for making a Very- Very- Special out of a Vangipurappu Venkata Sai and a controversy out of a plain bad decision.
But you have to hand it to controversies; at least they don’t discriminate between the two games. The recently concluded Asia Cup is a case in point. India’s bid to host the championship after many East Asian teams refused to play in Pakistan, the original venue, citing ….you guessed it, security reasons. What you may not have guessed though is that the Korea after their loss claimed that their not-so-great performance can be attributed to many of their players suffering from diarrhea. So maybe next time health concerns may be used alternately with security concerns. If the trend continues, I fear that there may be an acute shortage of venues for championships, at least for the Asia Cup.
But all that apart the championship has concluded on a high note for India, I mean the Indian Hockey team, but they haven’t got their due. Sometimes I resign myself to thinking why we as a nation even pretend to be interested in any sport other than cricket when we aren’t. Who would believe that hockey rather than cricket is our national sport. Some wise man had remarked once that woman have to do everything twice as well as men, in order to prove themselves. In the world of Indian Sports, hockey might as well be the weaker sex, for its state is no different. Which brings me back to Chak De India, which can be applauded for tackling both hockey and women issues.