The conquest adds to challenge of other sport

We thought we understood the role of and the power that cricket wields in this wonderful land of ours back in 2007 when Mumbai came to a grinding halt as the Indian team which had won the ICC World Twenty20 returned to a reception that included a fantastic drive from the airport to the Wankhede Stadium.

We had not reckoned with the team’s conquest of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 with a victory in the final in Mumbai itself. Even as the Mahendra Singh Dhoni sent the ball into orbit to clinch a six-wicket triumph over Sri Lanka, a whole nation erupted in a wild celebration that continued till the early hours of Sunday.

Yet, even as Olympic double trap silver medallist Rajyavardhan Rathore and tennis stars Mahesh Bhupathi and Somdev Devvarman joined the nation in celebrating the moment, it is hard not to think that the challenges faced by other sport have only got interesting. Of course, for all other sport, the climb into the collective consciousness of the nation just got that much steeper

Some of us may spend a whole lifetime in understanding the role of cricket and the power it exudes in this country. Those charged with the task of running other sport do not have such a luxury of time and will have to find ways for their stars – established and rising – to be in the limelight that they so deserve.

In seeking that solution, administrators and players of sport other than cricket must avoid the temptation to see the Indian cricket team’s success and the ensuing euphoria as a threat to their own survival. They must draw inspiration from cricket’s success and find methods to take their stars to the drawing rooms across the country.

It is clear that only when these champions are seen to be performing, competing with best in the world and emerging on top regularly enough on our TV sets that they will get the recognition they seek among the people of this country. It is not as if the people are besotted with cricket only but the cricketers are seen more often than many of these deserving champions.

We saw a good example of that in the last quarter of 2010 when the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and the Asian Games in Guangzhou brought many of our champions to the fore. The sight and sound of more than 50,000 people singing the National Anthem at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium is still fresh in our memory but these need to be refreshed and upgraded all the time!

As he was basking in the glow of leading the team to a World Cup title, the Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni did not forget that India had made progress in other sport in the past few years. “If you look at the last three or four years, we’ve done well in shooting, tennis and hockey. In football too we’ve won,” he said.

Besides their own traditional support base, there are a few role models who can inspire the young to take to their sport, be it in boxing, shooting, wrestling, archery etc. In the recent past, India has celebrated champions like Saina Nehwal and Somdev Devvarman, Gagan Narang and Deepika Kumari, Vijender Singh and Sushil Kumar. Yet, they need to be competing often at home.

That brings us to the advantages of high profile events to be conducted regularly in India so that our champions can be showcased. We have already seen how badminton has taken steps in that direction, organising the World Junior Championship in Pune, the World Championship in Hyderabad and is now getting ready for the inaugural Super Series event in Delhi.

For all that, as the officials grapple with ideas to modify the product to cater to the changing needs of the Indian sport fan, they must not see cricket as an adversary but as an inspiration, especially to counter the growing threat from sport which are broadcast more on TV – Formula One, English Premier League football and its likes, tennis golf and NBA basketball.

This piece has been written for Prabhat Khabar.

About Rajaraman 453 Articles
Born on March 10, 1961 in Hyderabad, I wanted to be an electronics engineer but my focus on cricket and basketball at school and junior college meant that I missed qualifying from the entrance examination. I led the School and Junior College basketball teams. I then decided he would be sports a journalist like my father, Mr N Ganesan. While I graduated in commerce from the Badruka College of Arts and Commerce, I also spent more time in sports, representing Andhra Pradesh in the National Basketball Championship in 1980 and Osmania University in 1981-82. I joined the 1981-82 batch of Osmania Univeristy's Bachelor in Communication and Journalism. I missed the gold medal by 0.6 per cent and was pursuing the Masters' degree when The Hindu offered me a job as Sub-Editor in Madras. I took up The Hindu assignment on March 17, 1983. Though my job entailed editing functions only, I got to cover the annual Sholavaram motor racing grands prix in 1985 and 1986 and the Himalayan Rally in 1985 when my photographs also found expression in The Sportstar. I left The Hindu in November 1986 to join Press Trust of India as Sports Reporter in Hyderabad. I was called to New Delhi to report on the World Table Tennis Championship in March 1987. I covered a variety of events, including the SAF Games in Calcutta in 1987 and Islamabad in 1989. I ventured to Delhi in July 1992 when I joined The Pioneer as a Senior Reporter/Sub-Editor (Sports). My cricket writing skills came to the fore when I was deputed to write on India's tour of Sri Lanka in July-August 1993. I was rewarded with a promotion as Deputy Sports Editor in 1995. The departure of the Sports Editor in January 1996 saw me hold charge. A good performance during the 1996 World Cup cricket and the Olympic Games in Atlanta - when The Pioneer brought out a four-page supplement every day saw me being confirmed as Sports Editor in August 1996. The Hindustan Times, Delhi's largest newspaper, appointed me as Associate Editor (Sports) in January 1997. I conceived and launched a weekly colour supplement, Sport during the World Cup football finals in 1998. I covered the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok and the 1999 World Cup cricket in England. I left the Hindustan Times on February 23, 2000 to take up position as Editor, www.cricketnext.com on February 26 and can claim with pride that I played no mean role in building a good site that is rated among the best cricket news sites. Besides, a number of TV channels – NDTV, Star News, Doordarshan, CNBC, Zee News – and radio stations like BBC, SABC and ABC have invite me to in-studio discussions on cricket. In 2001, I authored a book, Match-fixing: The Enemy Within (Har Anand Publications). I joined www.espnstar.com as Senior Editor in June 2001 and worked for two years, helping it transform from a corporate website to a respected sports site and playing a role in driving the hugely popular online fantasy cricket game, Super Selector. I left the website to pursue life as a freelance writer and consultant, editing the Afro-Asian Games Observer in Hyderabad in October-November 2003 and helping the Board of Control for Cricket in India's Communication Committee. I joined the respected weekly magazine Outlook as Senior Special Correspondent in April 2005 and worked there till September 2007, with a story highlighting Sunil Gavaskar's minimal contribution to Indian cricket after his retirement being one of the best in my career. For a year, till Sept 30, 2008, I was Sports Editor, Samay, Sahara India's National news channel. I live in New Delhi with my wife Sudha and daughter Priya and after a short stint with www.iplt20.com and www.t20.com, I am now consultant with the Organising Committee Commonwealth Games 2010 Delhi (28° 40' 0 N, 77° 13' 0 E) lending my shoulder to the wheel that will make India a hugely popular sports destination.

2 Comments

  1. Excellent…was just discussing the same issue on my facebook page…we surely need to see other sports in this country grow, but not by criticising cricket…cricket in this country need not fall to make other sports rise…Other sports need to rise and shine…:)

  2. Other sports need huge amount of support from authorities and corporates…loads of talents allover the nation and sub continent …all neglected…..we need to act…so start your blog or fbook page on your sport….for me its swimming…for my daughter and gang its basketball, volleyball and sprints events….loads of people into cycling and marathons as well these days….as for hockey ….where has it disappeared….???? more to follow

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