Cricket: Another Religion?

The day in the life of a typical Indian boy:
After coming back from school around 3:30 pm, he walks up to his mom and says, “Can I go and play cricket with the boys, please?” He will spend hours in the sun, on the weekends, trying to figure out the various forms of batting, bowling and fielding. He will force his parents to make him train in an Academy. He will do anything to realize his dream of being a cricketer one day. Backed by enthusiastic parents, he will go as far as his interest and love for the game will take him.


But in their admirable haste to ensure their child one day becomes a Tendulkar or a Ganguly, the parents forget there are other sports the child can opt for.


Such has been the scenario since the British left India in 1947. Cricket, cricket, cricket – that’s our National Sport even though people still claim it is football. The number of young cricket trainees has increased by leaps and bounds.


That is thanks to the highly publicized offers from brands to purchase their products and in return get to spend days/months/years training with the top cricketers of the country. Our country rides solely on the shoulders of cricket to bring them glory in the field of sports.


In the recent past, there have been significant achievements in the other Indian sports as well. Abhinav Bindra made us all proud by his wonderful Olympic achievement. Yuki Bhambri followed suit winning the Australian Open for juniors, and weren’t we all pleasantly surprised by Somdev Devvarman’s performance in the Chennai Open? Though he did lose in the end, he was consistent through out the tournament.


Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Sania Mirza have been around the game of tennis for a number of years now. Yet there are other hardworking tennis players whom you will have never heard off. Saina Nehwal has shot to fame all thanks to her badminton performance.


Yes, we know the names of these ‘players of other sports’. However, they remain a handful few. In fact you can count them off your fingers. That’s just how much sports have improved in our country.


If you ask anyone to name an Indian footballer: Bhaichung Bhutia is where it begins and ends. The question is why is India in this state? A country that boasts of talent in nearly every field, why is it that the cricketers always stay in the limelight?


The fame, love and stardom always are bestowed on the cricketers who can only rival the likes of film superstars. The new faces who have been loved so much for their grand performances in other sports will be soon forgotten when the IPL or some other form of cricket tournament begins.


“In India, cricket is not a sport – it is a religion,” is an oft quoted line. Religion is not meant to be celebrated in the form of a sport. You may love the game but not to the extent your life and death will begin to depend on it. But that is just how crazy this nation is about cricket.


We have nothing to hold against cricket. It is an enjoyable sport and we love watching it. It is hard to forget that India had won the 1983 World Cup and had made their way to the finals in 2000. Their loss in 2000 ensured rowdy behavior, and the people here acted like complete jackasses for days on end. The status of ‘religion’ given to cricket had taken care of other certain mishaps as well.


One sport overshadowing another isn’t a very good thing. There are billions of Indian men and women who are talented at sports not even recognized here – though they maybe world-famous. Parkour has suddenly gripped students in Kolkata. According to the Wikipedia:


“Parkour (sometimes also abbreviated to PK) or l’art du déplacement (English: the art of movement) is an activity with the aim of moving from one point to another as efficiently and quickly as possible, using principally the abilities of the human body. It is meant to help one overcome obstacles, which can be anything in the surrounding environment—from branches and rocks to rails and concrete walls—and can be practiced in both rural and urban areas. Parkour practitioners are referred to as traceurs, or traceuses for females.”


Founded by David Belle, parkour focuses on practicing efficient movements to develop one’s body and mind to be able to overcome obstacles in an emergency.”


The sport is truly amazing but one wonders if this can beat the cricket fan following. A bunch of school students had started this club, and if they can manage it – it will be full-fledge sports soon. Isn’t this proof enough that we go overboard with cricket? And men’s cricket.


Yes, all these cricket enthusiasts and the ‘cricket is a religion’ are referred to the men’s cricket. Even though there are brilliant women’s cricket teams, nobody wants to watch them. During the cricket awards, if a woman cricketer gets an award the reactions vary from being shocked to downright dismissive. It infuriates me – but this is just the way of the world.


Cricket is free to be a religion here. After all, India is a democratic country. However, what will happen if one day the youth decide not to play cricket anymore. They would like to take up other sports.


Cricket training is business, in one sense. So if no one wants to be a cricketer and wants to experiment, what is going to happen to the cricket training centers? If people are clever enough, they would begin to build Academies centering around other sports as well. No one, I believe, wants to be in for a rude awakening.

Aniesha Brahma

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