Sunday, February 13, 2011
The curious case of the fickle Indian fan...
However, to understand this psyche would require further delving on the issue. In the days of the yore, when cricket was young in India, people would long for any sort of news of their cricketing heroes. Listening to the BBC coverage on the radio would be the order, but thing started changing from the 1983 World Cup onwards. Once the finals was telecast live, the fans took to it like fish to water, and what added to the extra spice obviously was the home team emerging as champions. As time passed the coverage grew, so did the expectations and with its reach spreading to every part of the country fans were treated to all the various aspects of the game. However, it also made them ever so vulnerable, seeing their players going down against arch-rivals like Pakistan wasn’t something they would digest easily. And so would begin their tirade every time the home team would lose vital encounters. Players have shocking tales to tell on how they have been abused, not just by their countrymen but by expats as well, when they have failed to perform. There have been incidents when players would fear returning home after a poor series, fearing the ire of the fans. The media too has had a major part to play in influencing the public’s opinion. These days, no sooner would India lose one match, and headlines would come screaming at you with familiar words like ‘Shame’, ‘Disgraceful’ and the lot. Blogs and social networking sites too are notable platforms for venting out your anger and criticism and not to mention pointers to the captain on what the strategy should have been. Self styled analysts of the game too are increasing by the day, and all of them generally have similar points of view, on how the players should concentrate on the game and not on luscious advertisement deals. It doesn’t help, that while in the one frame a Yuvraj gets bowled, while in the other he is shown drinking coke. Questions are then raised about the integrity and patriotism of the players. Not many would agree, but while the whole country is hailing him as ‘god’ these days, it wasn’t too long ago when Sachin Tendulkar too was under the line of fire and people were demanding his removal, saying his days are over.
What we fail to understand is that players too are normal human beings. And what they play is a sport where winning and losing is part and parcel of the game. Surely one understands the disappointment if the team they support and love so much doesn’t live up to their expectations, but to take it to a personal level is a bit uncalled for. The players are at perfect liberty to do the advertisements of their choice, and secondly it hardly takes half a day to shoot a commercial so the question of lack of practicing doesn’t arrive. It isn’t their fault that the broadcasters choose to run those commercials at inappropriate times. These are international players and know the importance of donning the national cap; it takes years of struggle to get there, while the overwhelming support is good the opposite isn’t required either, at least not in the levels we are known to take it to. Criticism is fine, we have the right to do that in fact, but burning effigies and making personal comments would surely not help matters; all it does is to make the players vulnerable. One should look inside to understand, that when we sometimes fail or perform below expectations in life, we won’t like harsh lectures from our parents, but instead some compassion and understanding. In the same way, the Indian fan needs to mature and not be influenced by outside elements, and show some love and understanding at the time when our players perhaps need them the most. It would go a long way in restoring the confidence in the players relating to them, and who knows make them play with extra responsibility and perform beyond our expectations. Going overboard with anything is never good and that is the reason perhaps that we need to draw a line somewhere between love and hypocrisy.