Category Archives: sports

Where did we lose our Sporting heroes?


I have always been a fan of sport. I don’t care about nationalities in general. So I would want Sampras to win over ┬áLeander Paes any day. I am not saying I don’t want India to win, just that I don’t mind it being beaten by a better team. After all,the very spirit of sports is just that, isn’t it? to celebrate the spirit of unity, of excellence, of passion and above all a toast to humanity? Sports like entertainment is an escape from reality. So when Sachin bats, a nation holds its breath. Just that we have held it too long, its time we left it all out in a gigantic fart!
Cricket is a game played by a handful of nations and indeed India’s insistence of celebrating it as its biggest offering to the world of sports would forever be an impediment in getting any kind of recognition in the international arena with regards to sports. We are good at it but its time we took a pause and looked around us. Sachin is a great player no doubt, but also take a bow- to Sania Mirza who broke into women’s tennis, to Saina Nehwal’s achievements,to Vishy Anand for inspiring a generation of youngsters after him, to Vijender ,to Mary Kom and to P.T Usha who undoubtedly lays claim to one of the most stupendous achievements by an Asian.Hell, even the Chineese and the Japaneese have not been able to penetrate the track and field glamour events at the Olympics!
The game of cricket is today a tamasha, what with the entire stink of IPL bogging it down. Its played through out the year only because people watch it with feeding on media generated frenzy.Even the most popular sport on this planet is not oversold like this game. That defies logic? only because cricket has not been sold but abused badly. Yet we wonder why India produces so few medals in the Olympics. Funny isn’t it?

jesse-owens-et-luz-long

There are sporting icons that transcend imagination, that plant the seeds of a rebellion and who rewrite history by their deeds rather than their records. Think Cassius Clay who embraced Islam, protested against discrimination and famously threw his medals into the gutter,think Carl Lewis and Jesse Owens defying Hitler,recall Bobby Fischer who broke the Soviet hegemony in the world of Chess,
take a bow to Serena and Venus ,to Seles and then you want to talk of pressure then think of Murray,the man who played on top of a 70-year-old pressure cooker, to Nadal who knew the clock was ticking even before he played his first Grand slam, to Kabaeva and Comaneci and to Messi who fought hormone indefeciency all his life and to Senna who died on the track fighting ironically for higher standards of safety. Know beauty when the Argentinian and Brazilians most out of the slums play their magic brand of football, remember Zidane before his headbutt and hell of Maradona and his struggle ,even Hansie Cronje who came out and said the truth.

Countless times we have debated on Sachin’s contribution to India’s successes and the fact that we are still debating is the answer to that question. Lara is not the greatest because he doesn’t have a 100 hundreds. Point taken.And then the issue of pressure. Who doesn’t face it? We then add to a good measure a billion people as if the athlete from Romania feels less pressurized because their population is lesser! Ask Phelps when he chased those records what pressure is (he didn’t take a year to do it, the poor bloke did it the first time) or ask the Chinese athletes who fear failing to win a gold at the Olympics.They all face it. Or ask Messi when he stands on the spot to take the kick and Casillas when he desperately wishes to save it(By sheer numbers there is more pressure here!).
Great men decide their own retirement I hear. They also come and go as they wish. It’s the freedom that comes with greatness,they can also be a member of parliament even while playing, its alright to forget discipline after all we take pride in spitting on the roads. Sab chalta hai Yahan! So ,its ok to not expect sporting discipline and professionalism. So, Zidane scored in his last match, Sampras lifted a grand slam in his last and every great athlete can still conjure the magic more often than their peers. The point is they leave when they cannot do it everyday at their will.
I am not saying cricket or Sachin is not great.Its not his fault that he has not suffered tribulations like others but only saying that take a look around.Give talent its due.Celebrate sport not biasness and prejudices.Dont aSK a person to shut and leave because they dare point a finger at Sachin, learn to be tolerant. Afterall we as nation are fast forgetting that a bit of common sense and lots of tolerance!Its time we celebrated our heroes.

Sticky Wickets -Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar


I believe I would be widely hated for writing this post and people would not believe that I am also a great fan of Sachin even if I bother to reiterate repeatedly.Hence, I shall not make that point beyond this.
We as a nation are passionate about cricket but when it comes to Sachin we are hysterics. We throw reason,tolerance and sportsmanship out of the window. I am referring to the widespread furore that Akthar’s comments in his book,Controversially Yours, have created. Akthar is not the first one to be rebuked and made into a villain because he has dared suggest that Sachin is not perfect all the time. Before him many others have been victims of this syndrome.Sanjay Manjarekar in 2006, when he alleged that Sachin may have been faking injuries and then again in 2008 when he claimed his non-performance at the top order was hurting India in ODI. People lashed out against Manjarekar and called him sour grapes. Because Sachin is not only great but no can dare to cast aspersion of humane frailties against him, there have been other such incidents too. Mike denness was perhaps the greatest victim of witch hunting when he accused Sachin with tampering the ball.Technically Mike was right.Cleaning the seam as camera footage seemed to suggest can tantamount to ball tampering. We then of course suggested racial discrimination. Perhaps both the above incidents were in bad taste and Tendulkar’s detractors were wrong mostly. But the below three simply astound me.
Tendullkar had applied for a tax exemption for the Ferrari that had been gifted to him . It was bad enough he applied for one and even worse that fans came out in support of him! Geoffrey Boycott recently made that Himalayan blunder of reminding viewers that Sachin has not scored a century at Lord’s. Harsha Bhogale snapped that it was Lord’s loss, at the end of the series we know who was left red-faced.
Perhaps the most ludicrous of these incidents is the recent one against Akthar. He suggested that Sachin was trembling against him in one of the matches. So what? the best of the players do. May be sachin did. Even our Mythological heroes ,Gods and Goddesses can have moments of self doubt but Sachin can’t! we can digest that Lord Ram had to tell Adityahridyam to win over Raavan, we can also believe that Arjun doubted if he could win Karna.You may tell you are an atheist so let me then remind you of seeing Wasim Akram trembling against Sachin when the latter took him out to cleaners against Pakistan in the 2003 world cup. If my memory serves me right didnt the same akthar come out and tell he was afraid to bowl to sachin that day after being hit for a first ball six.It happens to the best of players. But, no.. its impossible to believe that Sachin could have had a bad day for his fans! Akthar is no joke he has troubled enough batsmen to be qualified enough to comment.We as a nation have become increasingly intolerant .Sachin’s greatness will not be reduced if he was found trembling against Akthar or if Akthar falsely claimed so. Ofourse Akthar wants to sell a book and he would mention any claims to victory he had over the prized wicket of Sachin.Perhaps the west has been more tolerant of its super stars who have been a little less than perfect. Mike Tyson. Diego Maradona and George Best are a case in point. But as Indians we risk reducing our greatest sporting heroes to caricatures by simply refusing to tolerate anything against them! Rajiv Shukla’s demand for an apology reminds me of Tiwari’s rant gainst Katrina .Her fault had been to remind the nation that she is not the only half Indian-half European around. She was factually and technically correct. After so much intolerance for such small issues we have the audacity to complain riots happen, funny isn’t it?

The Year that was -2010


Hey guys wish you all a very happy ,prosperous and fulfilling new year 2011! I have been blogging infrequently in 2010 but hope to do better in 2011.
The past few days I have been watching a lot of these reviews and recaps.The media chose to dub the past year as one of scams ,the page 3 called it the year of big duds but I believe that the last year of the first decade post millennium was the one that defined change.It stood for the unravelling of all that we took for granted and in economics it marked a paradigm shift. All those who advocated a culture that’s spending heavy cannot now stop singing praises of the thrifty Germany and the saving Asians. Europe fell and boy what a fall it was! You see economists seldom understand whats going to happen given a set of circumstances partly because they assume all of us to be rational in their theories which behavioral economists will kindly point out that we are predictably crazy.So economists are much like astrologers and failure analysts ,in retrospection they work well but are unable to hit the nail where it matters most-the future. So 2010 saw the Euro take a mighty hit and the EU totter ,The US seems unwilling to overcome the slump and people are now debating on a double dip recession.The year was all about currencies and a purported currency war!it was also about new super powers,falling giants and protests.
2010 also saw in our nation the Ayodhya verdict being delivered,a plethora of scams and the dangerous ways of the UPA to own up to nothing and blame it all on a doubtful saffron terror nexus.it was also the year of Julian Assange the wikileaks’ editor ,the new age role model and maverick iconoclast. you can see why youth like him. but seriously I don’t believe he brought out anything that really shocked you out of your senses and the US decided to make a mountain of a mere irritant.
we saw the big ones come to our doorstep and the media had a field day in describing Obama’s visit as a mendicant come calling for jobs!A tad premature and overdone ofcourse. its also the year when everyone for a change wanted their one time nemesis US to interfere in their internal affairs because they realized that China is more scary and less trust worthy.
On a lighter note in football the world saw the order shaken up once again. for all those people who argued years ago that the European way, in particular the efficiency of the Germans and the English was the way to go and that beautiful play doesn’t win you matches are now left without a balm to lick their wounds.Tell them Iniesta from Spain and Messi from Barca its enough.haha revenge is sweet more so when its cold!and thats what 2010 is about changing power balances and new power houses.It has changed forever the world we knew and the one that oUr children would grow up in.

VVS is a class act ,yes but please stop comparing!


Every time Laxman scores a test century,the nation celebrates and then goes on to dissect his performance and then quite characteristically begins to compare him with the T-20 brigade,Dravid or even Sachin! oh yes boys Laxman is a class act,one of a kind agreed but why dig the hornest’s nest of his T-20 performance and point fingers at his detractors. Or even why take jibes at guys who party a lot! you see if you were to ask a Mani Ratnam or Adoor Gopalakrishnan(Sorry,I dont think current Bollywood directors even come close!)to direct a saas bahu serial they will in all probability fail miserably. Laxman’s predicament is similar with T-20. And then again we have a Kishore Kumar who fit every mold. So guys learn to enjoy talents as they come.dont compare and yes,revel in the moment. As they say comparisons are odious!

Its time to clean the IPL Mess!


Indian parliament is being held in suspension by an unlikely row – over a sporting league that seems to have become a huge heaven for shady money transfers.While the law would take its course as much as political affliations would permit it to, its time to clean up the sport.
1. Throw the cheer leaders off the field
Sorry, a rude wake up call, we are not the US of A. As a country we are hypocritical and insecure about sex in any form. Having scantily clad cheer leaders grooving out voluptuous moves would just not to do.Implementing an alien cheerleader culture in to the Indian fabric is unnecessary and invites ogling men and distracts us from the game itself.There is moreover increasing evidence that these girls occupy much of our players’ interest and energy in parties.Time to bundle them out.

2. No more parties please!
we are talking of talented sportsmen, they are not call girls in a brothel. You cannot milk them to the maximum extent for money. Why would a sporting body like the BCCI expose its young impressionable players to draining late night parties, alcohol,drugs and women? Potentially this situation is a nightmare for many coaches and managers around the world, yet the IPL has willingly fostered it for money.

3.Save the players
Players below the age of 20 should not in my opinion be allowed to play the IPL simply because he will never completely evolve into a cricketer. As a bowler you will only be put off by exploding batsmen and flat bouncy tracks.nurture them in camps,limit their exposure to T-20 cricket till they are 20-22 . It will stand them in good stead.

4.No more strategic time outs.
Its a 40 over game,time outs to pass information to bookies and sell add slots will just not do.It interrupts the flow of the game if not anything more.


5.No more bollywood please!
There is no necessity for Hrithik Roshan to campaign for Mumbai Indians when Sachin is the captain. The sport is the biggest brand. Restrict the corrupting influence of Bollywood on the game. No necessity for actors to be brand ambassadors.

6. Icon players would just not do
I have never understood the concept of icon players. Remuneration should be in proportion to performance.

7.Rein in the corporate owners.
The owners’ access to media should be restricted. These corporate honchos treat some of the most talented men in the sporting world as their personal mutual fund investments. Strict rules and protecting players from unreasonable pressure should be implemented. Owner’s or their spouse’s presence to be restricted only to VIP enclosures during the course of a match.

8. End the corruption and illegal money involved:This would take a separate post to elaborate. I hance leave it.

Bottomline: IPL should be only about cricket and that would be the biggest brand management.

Images from 1. iplkhabar.com
2.santabanta.com

When all the millions in the world cant get you a win,theres a leson to be learnt


Barcelona won Real Madrid for the fourth consecutive time in a Classico face off, a week back.In spite of Perez and Pelligerini spending millions of euros to assemble the second Galactico, they came a cropper against a team that calls itself Mes que un club(More than a club).The premier league of course fuelled by debt finally deflated as it had to. The EPL much like US forgot one fundamental business lesson- debt fuelled growth is doubly dangerous because it not only projects an illusion of expansion but an expansion that would actually not fetch you returns to invest elsewhere.So,ManU,Chelsea.Arsenal and the now for sale Liverpool kept quiet even as Real Madrid splurged a third of a billion to assemble a team to counter the Catalans.Barca like Catalonia stood not only defiant but humbled all those millions by a sheer display of a dazzling brand of football.The lesson to be learnt is that Barca has invested wisely while Real Madrid is floundering in the dark .Barcelona got its basics right.The EL Masia has turned out a bunch of homegrown loyal bunch that has turned out to be its greatest strength.If you were an investor you would bet your money on Barca because its backed by a talented and disciplined work force on field.What Real forgot is that at the end of the day you have got to play to win.

Of course with time,Real will gel and improve and Barca’s dominanace will be shaken but for now the club stands as a rare example of money not fetching you everything and for Pellegerini thats a win.

All things sundry


There has been a lot playing out on national television these days , from Sania Mirza’s over hyped marriage to Lalit Modi and Shashi Tharoor’s spat.But what underlines both these incidents is that we as a nation are beginning to concern ourselves with things absolutely unnecessary.Why would the drama on Sania’s marriage garner so many TRPs? when was even the last time she passed through to round 3 in a Tier 1 event? scratch your head,I cant find one in recent times. She afterall belongs to an affluent family from one of the most posh localities in the nation. Why then the tag of rising against all odds? I think it would do well for the public to encourage the other silent girl who lets all her achievements do the talking-Saina Nehwal. It was very telling to read Saina’s interview some days back where she said that she hoped that her makeover would inspire more girls to notice badminton as a sport. A champion of world 5 ranking deserves better treatment from the media, sporting authorities,Government and the public.

The IPL has the ability to be a great sport without all the glitz and glamor. when played out as just a cricketing match it has enough in its arsenal to attract large crowds. Lalit Modi has managed to make the whole thing a crass circus. Large crowds throng to watch football in Europe for the sheer brilliance of Lionel Messi and the bravados of Rooney,Not because Britney Spears is smiling at the papparazzi from the stands. Like it or not,T-20 has tremendous entertainment potential merely as a bat and ball game. Why then Shah Rukh Khan ,Preity Zinta ,Shilpa Shetty, scantily clad cheer leaders and bollywood songs and to top it all late night parties? This not only pampers our already pampered cricketers but in general diverts them and reduces their intensity and focus.Modi must be taken to task severely for reducing what was once a gentleman’s game to bollywood’s side kick and mistress.He has turnedto put it grossly-cricket into a call girl and he has become its pimp.Anything for money and a bit of cricket-thats the underlying theme of IPL.