Of bandwagons and climbers-on

Still glowing from one of the most enjoyable Sunday evenings I’ve had in a long time — thanks to the Indian hockey team turning the clock back, and putting on display a brand of hockey that combined the style and flair of the sub-continent with the speed and stamina of the European model [The fact that the team nailed a convincing 4-1 win over a strong Pakistan team in its debut outing was merely the icing on that cake]. And equally to the point, they played in front of a full house, with fans cheering and dancing in the aisles with all the vigor normally associated with the IPL or some such tamasha.

The glow got dissipated a bit, though, while skimming through the morning papers. The President of India has felicitated the team. So has the prime minister and sundry politicians at the state and Federal level. Several of them have announced “awards” [If the past is precedent, half or more of these awards will remain at the ‘announcement’ stage, and will never materialize in actual fact]. Even Lalit Modi was tempted to hop on the bandwagon, with an invitation to the team to be his guests at “any IPL match of their choosing”.

What irks me is the sheer opportunism implicit in such statements. Where were these people when the hockey players, not so long ago, were fighting for their basic rights? Where was this ‘support’ for Indian hockey when the ‘authorities’ running the game threatened publicly to field a B team rather than pay the players their dues? No one spoke out then; our hyperventilating news anchors, who on their Twitter streams yesterday spoke of having ‘prayed to the Dhyan Chand statue’ before the game did not, at the time, hold Suresh Kalmadi and his ilk to account for the monies that had clearly been diverted from the pockets of the players.

I hope the team continues to do well; win, lose or draw, I hope they continue to play this brand of hockey, to delight in each other’s skills the way they did yesterday, to play as a unit and remind us all why we loved this game in the first place. And I hope they have the nous to tell opportunistic politicians to go take a hike.

In passing, the Commonwealth Games is nearing. Possibly, Abhinav Bhindra will win a medal. And when he does, the President, the Prime Minister and sundry politicos will clamber on that bandwagon, too. Some TV anchor will tweet about how he prayed before the statue of William Tell. And this will be forgotten. [In related, I hope my friend Rahul Mehra pushes this for all he is worth — one thing he won’t lack is support from the mango person].

Oh — and: Happy Holi. Hope you enjoy the festivities, without the attendant hooliganism. See you guys tomorrow.


16 thoughts on “Of bandwagons and climbers-on

  1. “What (former coach) Ric Charlesworth could not not do Brasa has done. Full credit to Brasa and the players. They will be given Rs 1 lakh each,” Kalmadi said after the match.

    Was it necessary for Kalmadi to drag Charlesworth while lauding the team’s performance?
    I guess it only goes to show Kalmadi’s vindictive nature.

  2. Aren’t you as opportunistic as you claim Modi to be in taking your dig at him? What is opportunistic in him expressing his support for Indian hockey team even before the match started (Its as if you think India was going to beat Pakistan and he wanted to take advantage of it). He has not contributed any less or more to Indian hockey than you did. It has become fashionable among some in the media to take a dig at BCCI, IPL, or Modi for that matter for almost anything. May be some in the media think they need to be card carrying haters of these three inorder to establish their hipness/credibility. I don’t support them on all of their actions (some of them I do and for the record I think Modi has done heck of a good for Indian cricket than some pundits who are glad to be armchair critics of what others do). At the end of the day you need money to build/upgrade stadiums, pay more money to domestic players to take up Ranji’s and pursue cricket as career. Where light needs to be shed is how this money is being utilized than making it fashionable to criticize anything that comes of his mouth. There are people who do and people who sit and criticize others who do. Unfortunately the latter are much more voluble and we India can do with more of the former than the latter.

  3. Prem,

    Two things,
    1) Does not this sent any signal to hockey players?? Fame comes with results, forget about administration for minute, its you the players who can force them alter decisions ‘only’ if you produce consistant results. No body will provide you best of fascilities or money but still if there is talent you can still be noticed. It took talents like Sachin,Rahul,Saurav etc to bring money in cricket, BCCI did not had penny before 83 world cup remember??

    2)If Mr. kalmadi or any soports body chief is operating like so and so, WHY DOES MEDIA DONT DO ANYTHING? Even you are writing blogs which are basically never noticed in general public. why dont some one from major network media dont do instigative story. I can even take it for continuous 24 hour if someone can dare and say why he is not good for this position or he is running like dictator.
    it looks like media likes to blame them but dont want to ask straight questions.

    • Typical high handedness by a white skinned official, in this case Australian. Mike Denness, Darrell Hair and now Ken Read. Care to take a guess which team India plays next in the schedule ?

  4. Prem,
    You know I love hockey just like I love cricket. I used to follow hockey even before I started following cricket. After watching great Indian hockey team performance on Sunday against Pakistan I was wondering whether India will celebrate this win as much as they would have done after a win agaiinst Pak team in a world cup cricket match. I was also wondering whether your blog will have any mention of this match etc.
    Even though the scale of attention was not exactly equal to cricket but I was still pleasantly surprized to see that People of India still care about this sport. And even though you may say that it is too early to judge but I have no doubt that if the administration can play its part efficiently we can be world beaters again.

  5. Whats the need for the dig at the IPL/cricket? And the media has always been opportunistic, even while covering cricket.

  6. Apart from being opportunistic, a hallmark of virtually every politician, the reactions are unfortunately too early and over the top at this stage in the World Cup. I can understand cashing in on the “We beat a strong Pakistan” hype, but surely that should be looked at as just the first step of great campaign? So far more than hoping for the idealistic act of declining the awards, I hope they’re able to keep their minds clear, not get big headed and focus on the task at hand… continue to play good, exciting and disciplined hockey. Some amazing passes and quite brilliant defending yesterday… but it just seemed to me that Pakistan looked terribly off color. Lets be optimistic and say they were in shock and overawed.

  7. I guess thats a very valid point you made Prem, I think this sort of ” lift you upto the skies, drop you down when you don’t perform ” extremes work only in our country. True that any individual/Team needs to perform consistently to get people interested in any sport, but do we have a system in place those short comings? I particularly am disappointed with how everyone tries to join in the success of this particular team , I think it is only the players who did it and it is only them who should bask in the glory….Srikanth

    • What proof do you have to support this hypothesis that ‘I think this sort of ” lift you upto the skies, drop you down when you don’t perform ” extremes work only in our country’
      Just curious, have you checked out the press and reactions in every other country?

      • More or less, yes, I have lived in NZ and Oz for few years and they have a definite system in place for players that hit the occasional rough. Have you ever noticed how a Oz cricketer even on debut does such wonderful job when picked up straight away? I can quote a lot of examples. Take even Oz hockey, they weren’t really great when they started off , now they are the team to beat, In a few years they will be hitting the soccer in a big way too and that is not because the 11 players on the field are good, but because they have a valid system in place.

        • Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t realize Oz and NZ was the entire rest of the world… and even their your assessment is inaccurate. Who has this magical “definite system”? The government? The boards? The media? You know how they raved about David Warner – only to question why he was picked in ODIs without much domestic experience later? How good was Mick Lewis’s career, since all Oz cricketers do such wonderful jobs when picked straight away?
          And how does this “system” validate your argument that only in India we have this “lift you upto the skies, drop you down when you don’t perform” attitude? You might not have noticed but Prem wasn’t talking about a Sports association’s “system” but about the reactions of the climbers-on… So you chose to include an irrational and ignorant assessment of the Indian mindset on what basis then?
          I think you’ll find that the over the top hype and sharp criticism of sports personalities (and of celebrities in general) is prevalent in most countries…

    • I’m not talking of extreme reactions to performance or lack thereof. My point is, just two, three weeks ago, these boys were striking for non-payment of dues, and you had Suresh Kalmadi saying if you like we will give you 20k; we had the HI chief saying don’t play if you don’t want to, we will field a B team, and so on. HI comes under government oversight; I am merely asking, what the hell happened to the politicians then? Why were they not heard from?

    • Some progress was made: (1) BCCI was deemed a for profit organization, hence liable to be taxed; (2) BCCI had claimed it was not subject to oversight; the courts ruled otherwise, which is huge. The case in chief is still wending its way through the courts.

      • Read in “The Hindu” a few days back that a minister of finance had stated (opined?) that the BCCI is an organization for profit, and not all its activities are towards improving the game in its control, and hence will be taxed accordingly.

        Does this have any connection to the above case?


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