Why one sport takes all the limelight ?

“Out in Russia, I mentioned cricket and they gasped at the thought of the ugly insect. “
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Im not sure if I am right or wrong. I dont mean to be anything. I just have observations.

Ok. Much said and spoken but lets get to the heart of the matter. The recent disapproval of Maria Sharapova not knowing our cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar by several Indians gave me such a big laugh that I had to write this.

India- the land of a billion people and with possible talents in every sports imaginable. But then, why cricket ? Why is this one sport so popular upto a point of frenzy ? What can be the reasons ?

CRAP #1 : “Hey we won the world cup in 1983 and that sparked it!!”

But hey, we won Hockey WC back in 1975 when the 1st cricket WC was born.

CRAP #2 : “Its so easy to get started to play cricket!”

Really? No. Kids prepare bats out of planks, sometimes substitute walls for wickets, wickets for bats, even rocks for balls. And there are creases and different gully cricket rules of offside and what not since we cannot have such huge stadiums everywhere
I’d be right in thinking that football is much easy to get started. You just need a football and people to play and some space.

{ A more realistic test-match stadium would have more than 20,000 square yards of grass (having a straight boundary of about 80m). In contrast an association football field needs only about 9,000 square yards of grass, and an Olympic stadium would contain 13,500 square yards of grass within its 400m running track, making it impossible to play international cricket matches unless the stadium was specifically built for cricket. However the Stadium Australia which hosted the Sydney Olympics in 2000 had its running track turfed over and 30,000 seats removed to make it possible to play cricket in the stadium, at a cost of A$80 million.}

CRAP #3 : “Cricket is religion, cricketers are gods..We have been doing it for generations..”

Ohh yeah ? Ever read the Monkey experiment from 1967? Go read it. Its a mob reaction and it builds up a perception over time on a particular thing. So, cricket is simply a religion because we have too much of faith in it and its become something more than sport. I wouldnt say its a bad thing. It is not. But in its wake, we have forgotten other sports. Its just like over the years of evolution, species forget to use any of the unused organ. So interest in other sports have taken a backseat. Now coming to the “have been doing for generation thing..”, cricket is a fairly new sport for India. only in the last century, India started playing it.

Ok, so were the Britishers responsible for building up the hype of cricket ?
No. certainly not. True, they tried to introduce cricket to all the nations they conquered, but they never gave it the kind of hype and religion it has become in India. Some commonwealth nations like Canada still struggles to find a place in cricket.

CRAP #4 : “Cricket is the best physical activity”

Physical activity and cricket were never together when the sport was created. It can be regarded as a sport meant for intense concentration, maybe stamina for a long duration of time.

Talking about physical activity, bowlers have to do quite the most in a Test Match. But India never really produces such great fast bowlers all the time. I’m telling in the general sense for the whole length of our population. But we wont, since we have been bred and watched the great batsmen of India and bowlers – not many. I remember, when I used to play as a child, usually everyone wanted to bat and I had to reconcile with bowling most of the times. I never complained for I liked bowling, but it has been there. “Oh gosh!”, you might be feeling why the hell am I talking about bowling and not the physical activity thing, but as I said if its a test match they do the most running.

I calculated that a batsman making 50 runs on an average all by running will only cover a mere 1 km.

Average run in a single match :

[ Footballer  : 11.2 Kms
[ Hockey player : 9 Kms
[ Tennis player : 5 Kms
[ Basketball player : 4 Kms
[ Cricket player : ~ 4.5 Kms

Now I wont take all the credit away from cricketers.But then those running times is far spread out and doesnt have to be constant since there are 2 people batting, bowler bowling not more than certain number of overs [ in ODI’s/T20] and fielders well spaced out and not having to run about everywhere.

 Its all fine and running long distances perhaps might not be the best of indication of a better physically demanding sport. I certainly agree but I would surely not conclude that cricket is the best physical activity.

It has been from an evolutionary perspective, that we were never meant to be hard physical laborers etc and living for long in an environment makes you to adjust.In such sports like football, the structure of a South American person is well versed for running for miles on end and do it all the time. That is evolution. Accept it. And once its the kind of game, that we are good at, we instantly like to play it. Cricket was so much the sport that we wanted to play. It never really requires much of intense physical activity that we are built for. Not much when compared to other sports that require large burst of energy in short span, but instead stamina for a longer duration. So, it got stuck to us and we were hooked to that sport. And when we were hooked to it for long, others followed. till it became a rage and religion.

 So, when it comes to extreme physical sports like football, basketball[ ok in Tennis, we did some of what could be done.. but still], we’re no match to  many other nations.

CRAP #5 : “Legends made this sport unmatchable with other sports.”

Yes, with all due respect,a legend is a legend. But does one person make a team sport a religion ? No. Sure interest is generated in a larger sense and legends will be legends but it does not make a sport a frenzy. There should be other factors too.

Also, if we talk about legends, it not just cricket where we have had legends. Have we forgotten ‘Dhyan Chand’? He has a statue in Austria where people never believed a mortal human could play the way he used to play. Then where is our hockey now? Its in doldrums with other sports. In fact, on seeing a person carrying a hockey stick- the first thing that comes to mind [ ” He must be going to beat someone up” ]. Thats the kind of instinctive reaction we have built for hockey.

Legends can generate interest, they can ignite that spark, but they can never become the sport itself. Also, if there is one legend in a nation, chances are that many more will be inspired and will come from the same nation. But I dont find that happening in other sport? Why? We did have Sania Mirza and Dhyan Chand and Milkha Singh and P T Usha and many more.
It is for a simple reason that games is still mostly under the fold of the Government and it does more than eating funds and doing nothing. What more sportsmen do come, come from the military bodies – army, navy etc. For a person wishing to become a really good racer is a lot of effort in this nation, not because its a difficult thing or the weather is hotter. These are smaller reasons that the bigger crux of the sports being ignored and their accomplishments not duly noted so that it can inspire others to join in. Now tell me, if the likes of Paan Singh Tomar or Sita Sahu etc other Olympics/Asian Games/Special Olympics winners get such ridicule and no sense of accomplishment by this very country that treats even good enough cricketers with too much godliness.

Would you want to become a 100 m racer at Olympics if you know that your Gold and Bronze medals wont count and you will have to spend the rest of your life in poverty? Would you really want to take that chance or rather would you play cricket and even forget the idea of it. There are many of us, who are better footballers, better basketballers who can be world champions and so on, only if we ever opened our eyes, only if status of other games could be uplifted.

CRAP #6: BCCI has led to cricket’s popularity.

There has come a time now, that the central cricket body of the sport called ICC is less popular and poorer when compared to BCCI. It is not because of BCCI that cricket has been this big. Its the other way round. Its the cricket thats so big that we know of BCCI. There are sport bodies for every sport , only we barely know of them.

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Does all this answer everything correctly? Im not sure. I may have not been right on occasions too and I duly will accept it if I get a good counter-view with decent explanation. But till then people of India should leave Maria Sharapova alone for cricket is not really very big outside India. In Russia, its near non existent. Lets not blame her for the lack of knowledge. She plays tennis and she should know how to play it and that’s enough. A sports quiz-master probably not knowing Sachin would be a failure, but not her. Also, the annoyed people out there, ask of how many sporting legends you know who don’t play cricket? It doesn’t mean other sports don’t have international presence- it just means we, Indians are blinded by one sport and sooner or later we will realize it.

Cricket is a wonderful sport. But every sport is different and cricket is not the best one. Every one of them is the best in its own regards.

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Creative Commons License
Why one sport takes all the limelight ? by Arvind NV is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

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