‘What will I tell my son?’

Of the responses in the wake of my post of this morning, one — from Professor Upadrasta Ramamurty of the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore — is particularly poignant. Here it is, with Ram’s permission, in full:

Dear Prem

Just read your piece on smoke signals. Well written – as always.

Exactly my thoughts/feelings. I have been in love with this sport and everyone knows this. (In fact the other day my director talked to me about ‘being relaxed at the crease to score runs!’)

So, the way the game is heading saddens me. But I guess I can live with that. We tend to become cynical as we grow old and the developments in cricket for the past two decades only reinforce those cynical attitudes.

But what I am concerned about is my boy – all of thirteen years old – and just about falling in love with this game. He goes to coaching here in Malleswaram and day-dreams of becoming a player one day. (In fact, he slyly asked whether we would allow him to go to the after-match parties when he becomes an IPL player!)

My heart gets wrenched when I want to tell him that there is no difference between WWE and IPL.

With people like RSD, AK and VVS gone/going, whom do I ask him to idolize? How do I tell him that this is not the game worth falling in love?

Not just him…but a million other kids, who wear whites and lug the heavy kits every morning to the grounds, with a hope to play big one day!
How do you answer Ram? What could you possibly say to his son?
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10 thoughts on “‘What will I tell my son?’

  1. I was in my early teens and watching the Seoul Olympics. For some reason I still cannot explain, I hated Carl Lewis. The hundred meters finals got underway and Ben Johnson exploded off the block into the record books, lustily cheered by an Indian teen. The disgrace followed and I was still in denial. This is what my dad told me.. “There is a lesson in this for all of us. Cheaters NEVER win. There is good and bad in this world and in all of us. Remember Draupadi’s disrobing?? Society is not destroyed by the bad and the wicked but by the good keeping quiet and doing nothing”. That moment remains burned in my memory.

    PS: My dad loved your Bhimsen

  2. So many emotions…Terrible.. The game gave me so much while i was growing up… Like one of the readers above..it was part of life.. Over the last six years, i have come to believe that most of it was fixed. Cynical..may be.. I still cant stop watching… One reason is, the standards have increased manyfolds… Especially the fielding ones… Just look at some of the catches… Ofcourse, there are dubious drops.. But, to pull off some of those catches, i hope is beyond fixing… I cant say so much about batting and bowling..saqlain was the most innovative bowler for me.. Batsmen were thinking till about the start of t20 wc.. Remember uthappa talking about the scoop shot in england just before it… After that, nothing i remember… But to be honest my interest in the game reduced many folds..what do i tell my son? Your dad believed and played this… Look for an individual sport.. Atleast you control the outcome.. Maybe?

  3. If the team principal is corrupt, by extension of logic, arent at least some members of the team also corrupt. After all, the team principal cannot DO anything, no?

    I feel that everybody considers IPL a tamasha and hence do not feel it is important to maintain integrity. I honestly feel ALL players in all teams are complicit & fixing, nay, scripting, is de rigueur in IPL. If not as active participants, at least knowing, if unwilling, spectators. Yes it is a personal opinion, but I cannot shake that feeling.

    However, like an alcoholic, I find it impossible to not park myself in front of the TV when there is a cricket match, any match, going on. This is the tragedy of the average cricket lover.

  4. Why such a pessimistic view from someone who loves the sport? Rather surprising. I would have told my son go and put your heart in brining back glory to the sport. Be the Dravid or VVS of your time. Am sure there is enough rot everywhere in the Country and Cricket is no exception. We are not living in GANDHI’S RAMRAJYA

  5. Loved the comment about the IPL being like the WWE.

    As I expected, there is nothing special about some fringe players in the Rajasthan Royals team and spot-fixing. It is a disease endemic to all of IPL and perhaps most of the ODIs and T20 matches being played around the world and certainly tests are not beyond the scope either when it comes to spot-fixing (though fixing an entire match is tougher with longer formats of the game and is easier with 20-over matches where 1-2 overs of lollies, scoring at 3-4 rpo instead of 6-8 or a misfield or two can make all the difference between a win and a loss.)

    So, in some ways, it is not surprising that the cops have gone right to the very top men of the top teams of the IPL, who happen to be relatives of the politicians and powers-that-be that control the BCCI and through that clout almost all of cricket around the world. Politicians and money has RUINED cricket …for those of us who grew up with cricket in more “innocent” times, it is a paradise lost and a loss of innocence, indeed! This circus must end!

  6. Well I know what I will tell Prof. Ram (and not certainly the same thing to his son) “In all professions – sports, politics, science, religion, etc. – there are thugs and there are honest Joes. When the spotlight is bright both look glamorous or ugly, depending on the point of view (and the viewer).”

    What I will tell his son though is: “Sports (cricket) is about going to the ground, stretching your lungs, out-smarting your opponent – the batsman/bowler/fielder. It is not about attending IPL post-match parties. Ambition is great, but the competition in sports is much greater than other areas, and besides talent luck is also an ingredient for progress. This is the time to hone your talent.”

    Ram

  7. My first recollection of watching a cricket match is in 1986…one of the the India vs NZ B&H matches that India lost narrowly, NZ pulling off a thrilling chase. I dont remember anything about that match except that I told my friend the result of the match. I was all of 8. Then in 1987 the world cup came to India. When India lost to England in the semis I cried. I was 9, and that was when cricket became a part of my life. And till now I associate each and every memory of my life to an incident in cricket. My 7th standard…1990 comes to mind. And with 1990 Kapil’s 4 consecutive sixers of Hemmings springs to mind. I was listening to the BBC commentary then when all my friends were probably doing their homework. My 10th standard board exams…the first thing that comes to mind is the 1994 series against NZ (when sachin opened for the first time) and the Pakistan series against NZ that followed it. 12th standard? World cup 1996 comes to mind. And all those Sportstars (magazine from the Hindu) that I collected from 1987 to 1994. I still refuse to throw them away even though a few of them are moth eaten. I have a 4 year old son. I plan to show those magazines to him and tell him this is how my childhood was like. Cricket was my childhood. Now my son probably will never experience cricket the way I did.

  8. Prem,

    Been reading your blog for a while now. After the England debacle last year I had decided not to watch any T-20 or ODI involving India. I guess if a vast majority of us turn off our TV sets the BCCI may take note with more seriousness than anything else. The whole point of having the IPL seems to me to have a large TV audience, I personally can’t do much else. I don’t have a son, but it really does pain me that unlike the relationship I had with my dad where we could compare a Sachin to a Viv Richards or a Kumble with Chandra, it does not seem like I will ever be able to share the same with my son.

  9. What my grandma once told me “it takes all kinds to make the world”. So good does good and reap benefits. Bad does bad and gets punished. sadly, in this IPL issue (and our country to a large extent) its unlikely many baddies will be punished. that is a problem.

  10. Sorry if it sounds cruel but the only person worth idolizing in India right now is Rajiv Shukla. What a man! What a rise he has had in life! What’s not to like? He represent everything that’s right and wrong with India.

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