Heh!

I was reading an obit of veteran journalist Dharam Shourie just now, written by a correspondent who knew him well — and stumbled on this gem.

Shourie, who per the writer was a brilliant raconteur, once narrated the story of a journalist who, armed with a tape recorder, went to the office of a Cabinet minister for an interview.

The minister, much miffed, told the reporter to leave his tape recorder outside the room if he wanted the interview. When the reporter complied, and returned to the minister’s chamber, that worthy told him, ‘Why do you want to tape me? Are you trying to deny me my right to deny whatever I am about to tell you?!’

WADA update

Suresh Menon calls the face-off a ‘heart versus head’ issue and in this piece, attempts to balance those conflicting pulls.

SportsMagIndia — a site worth following for the occasional, well-reasoned posts on off-ball topics like marketing [read this earlier piece on the problems of Kashmiri bat manufacturers, for instance] — is all ‘head’ in its approach to the issue:

Regardless of the stature of sportspersons involved, if someone has an issue with their constitutional rights being infringed, then they do have a right to protest and ask for legally valid rules and regulations to be framed by governing bodies.

Interestingly, the two issues raised above present administrators and sportspersons with diametrically opposite constitutional law challenges (i.e. one regarding a player’s right to freedom of speech and expression, and the other regarding a player’s right to privacy). It would be fascinating to see how courts and administrative bodies across the world respond to these new challenges presented by sport!

Bingo, I’d say. Much continues to be made [vide Boria Majumdar in BBC] of the number of countries [191] and sports organizations [571] that have signed up for the WADA code; and of the plethora of big names that have accepted the code [Federer! Bolt!! Abhinav Bindra!!!].

The thing though is, bad law doesn’t become good law simply because a number of people accept rather than question it.

In passing: WADA says all this is designed as a deterrent. The players in the testing pool will never know when they are going to be tested, hence they will be forced to stay clean 24/7.

Here’s the Indian list: Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Irfan Pathan, Zaheer Khan, M.S. Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Munaf Patel, Virender Sehwag, Jhulan Goswami and Mithali Raj.

And here’s my question: does it follow that there is no pressure, no compulsion, on the others in both the men’s and women’s teams? That they can do what they like during the off season and clean themselves up just before competition?

Clearly, that is not WADA’s intent — but by naming a testing pool, all that the doping body is doing is telegraphing its punches; whether this meets the stated objective however is a question I have reservations about.

Living in the here and now

Saw this last week in the midst of preoccupations with the missus and meant to throw it up here for those who might have missed a must-read: Aakash Chopra continues his series of articles written from a cricketer’s perspective, with a lovely piece on the art of concentration [here's the first in the series].

A few years ago I was selected to play in the Challenger Trophy (before I made my international debut). We had an interactive session with Geet Sethi, the billiards player, whose definition of concentration remains etched in my memory. He said that concentration is simply remaining in the present. The longer you can remain in the present, the greater your span of concentration. Sounds easy, right?

Nearly two decades of playing cricket has taught me that it isn’t. The mind has the peculiar ability of wandering off at the first available moment, and it doesn’t need any permission. You might be in the middle of an important match, playing an important knock or bowling the most crucial over, but the mind has a mind of its own. Two places it likes to wander off to are the past and the future.

I’d either start feeling bad or good about what had happened in the past – the ball before – and get disconnected from the present, or I would start worrying about or prematurely celebrating events in the future, getting away from the task at hand.