2 days in a row the city’s newspaper headlines belonged to sports news. Yesterday it was a national shame because for the first time in the living memory India will not participate in the Olympics hockey.
The national shame quickly became just a lip service in 24 hours as today’s headlines screamed what else but cricket. Except for the pink papers, all other dailies have Shah Rukh Khan splashed across the front page.
The badshah of Bollywood was in the city last evening to formally launch Kolkata Knight Riders, the IPL team from the city. See the bubbly website.
Ironically, to the question that ABP asked in yesterday’s edition as to whether the excessive brouhaha over cricket is responsible for the spectacular decline of hockey, an overwhelming 82% polled said ‘yes’.
The poll result nestled amicably together on the Anandabazar Patrika’s front page. As if the wound was not serious enough, ABP rubs salt to it with today’s poll that asks if the Knight Riders of Sourav-Shah Rukh have it in them to be the champion.
There are cricket loving critics who say the game of eleven-versus-two is not responsible for the decline of every other sport in India. Really? Well, I beg to differ.
In fact it is the story of rags versus riches. Yesterday’s TT informs that while a hockey player earns a meager Rs.1200 a day in foreign tours, the ‘Team India’ players earn Rs.1.6 lakh per ODI over and above the BCCI’s grading fees.
Meanwhile, King Khan does come as a genuine sport enthusiast. In the interview to TT in today’s edition he not only informs his fondness for other games, notably football (he ruptured a back muscle in a game at the Delhi’s Ambedkar Stadium) and hockey, he also reveals that he and his son woke up at 3 in the morning on Monday to watch the India-Britain hockey playoff.
Shah Rukh is infinitely busier than I am, yet I preferred to know the hockey result from the TV and papers. In other words, despite my agony in this post, I was less eager to keep up with hockey live from Chile.
Multiply my non-interest several thousands of times, and the product is a national apathy towards a glorious sport that once India ruled.
Give this more oxygen to nourish and flourish…and what do we have?
We may in a decade or so be reduced to the only nation on the earth that only played cricket, a game played by the fewest nations on the planet.