Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Downward Spiral Continues

Just read a report on Cricinfo suggesting Andrew Symonds may have been at the receiving end of racial abuse from a section of the Baroda crowd. The sick irony of Indians indulging in racism is obviously not lost on any thoughtful Indian but then you cannot accuse a lot of 'fans' of having a sense of decency or history. I read a column in The Australian a couple of days ago (one Paul Lalor I think was the columnist) basically painting Sreesanth as the villian of all the bad blood so far and while that is probably not off the mark, what got my attention was the description of "Hindu Sreesanth" and "Secular Symonds". As Andre Agassi once advised a whingeing Yevgeny Kafelnikov (having wisened up himself over the years) a lot of people need to buy some perspective. There is also a jarring dissonance between political correctness in the public arena and the all too familiar examples of uncouth behaviour in the sporting context, but it doesn't shock anymore. Of course, there will be some token "disciplinary measures" to rein in recalcitrant athletes to maintain the veneer of decency, but when it comes from the audience, it's much trickier to deal with. So what we see is sporting bodies keeping busy in desperate PR mop ups, trying to contain the genie they've helped unleash and nurture. Corporations have found it quite useful to help along the propaganda - I saw a blurb about the "Qantas Wallabies" on a flight last night that just showed how far things have gone. When the blurb reran, there was a spectacle of Australia's olympic heroes being feted and I'd just finished reading about Marion Jones' fall from grace. There is something Orwellian about the way sporting culture is evolving. Certainly in the Indian context it is worrying how shady characters have found it useful to latch on to cricket and the sort of vague national pride that goes with it to take the public for a ride. It is hardly unique to India though and all the hysteria around gigantic olympics and other 'extravaganza' put it comfortably in the shade. - NK PS: I thought there was something surreal about the post match reactions and celebrations following India's win in the T20 World Cup, more so from apparently sensible people in the commentary box and on the podium. Mahendar Singh Dhoni almost snatching the microphone from Ravi Shastri's hands told its own little story. Amidst all the media hype and the public adulation/villification, sporting 'heroes' begin to believe the hype. Only the sensible see the slope for what it is. There's always another one to take their place, for the show must go on.