Cricket has been way too glamorized in India since the time it started. Cricketers are almost omnipresent. On TV – either playing or in the news for their controversies with the coach. Or in the papers for their new hair style. Or in the posters for being brand ambassadors. Or on the radio for their marriage band or banquet. More than half of the national news is covered by cricket.
If you ask a kid today the national game of our country, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if he replies cricket. People know that a game with eleven players on each side and played with a ball and a wooden stick is our national game. But not many are aware of the fact that, that wooden thing is a hockey stick and not a bat.
Jokes apart, am I not justified in saying that cricket has been too closely linked with the national spirit? Quite often we see angry protesters publicly burning posters and effigies of players who lose a match and their wide coverage is shown on TV. The frenzy associated with an event of winning a match is much more than is needed. The Board announcing a prize of Rs. 1 crore for a cricketer for hitting six sixes in a match. This act of hyperactivity and unnecessary benevolence could have been fruitful if the money was spent in improving the facilities for other sports that are rather neglected in our country.
On top of it, there is our Indian media which goes nearly crazy covering our cricketers. I am not kidding when I say that I have seen a correspondent running around like a lunatic with a cameraman, just to find out what Bhajji going to have today, skimmed milk or full cream? I wonder if they can even hire a helicopter to hover around the restrooms to track down each and every move made by the cricketers. Is it not over glamorizing, with Mandira Bedi sitting in flashy saris and running a cricket commentary show named ‘Silly Point’? Or some former cricketers and commentators discussing one particular ball or leg action fanatically, with viewers calling up to drop in some of their valuable comments.
Am I sounding like a publicity agent for ‘Chak De’ or some other sports federation? If yes, it is for the sake of the other sports that are continually neglected by the government.
Children, who are even fond of other sports like billiards, squash, badminton, chess, fear to take them up as careers, knowing the persistent neglect of the government and people. They neither get the required facilities nor the needed motivation. We fail to understand that other sports also stand equally for resplendent glory, but the balance is tilted heavily towards cricket. Due to this, other sportsmen, who have performed commendably well in Olympics, Asiads and such great sports meets feel their merit injured as they get only marginalized coverage in TV and in the print media.
It’s a proven fact that we can excel in other sports too, provided suitable attention and incentives are provided to them. It’s high time we realized that this excessive glamorization is overshadowing our talent in other sports. After all, what kind of a message are we sending to the youth and the country by stinting the growth of other sports?
What is needed is a holistic approach to highlight the other sports. Once we (and more importantly the media) stop treating our national cricketers as gods, everything will fall into place.