This post is triggered by the comments passed by most people on twitter about the Indian cricketers both past and present. The editor of a National News paper had tweeted naming the Chief Selector and other senior officials of BCCI as being keen on making money. In this context I would like to ignore the personalities involved and discuss only the issues involved.
I would list my thoughts as follows:
- Why should we deny our best cricketers the money.
- Why we think we deserve better from our Icons when we are not willing to perform as a nation.
- Are we abusing the power that a medium like Twitter gives us.
The Cricketers who make money are the very few at the top of the pyramid. They have not had an easy stroll to get there. This article on Ramesh Pawar, who has been ridiculed for his appearance.
He doesn’t stop there and explains the larger problem – one that domestic cricketers across the country face. “At the international level, you can concentrate solely on your cricket. But at the domestic level, there are lot of things one has to take care of, lot of responsibilities to undertake. I’m married, I have a job, I have work at the bank, I have to buy groceries. In six years before playing for India, I lost both my parents and had to run a family on my own, had to take up so much on my shoulders. People can say Ramesh Powar is fat, but there are reasons for it. I can’t just go to the gym and workout when I want. Despite all this, I have performed on the field.”
That puts the problem clearly and in the words of somebody who has gone through the grind. The Indian team is only the few people at the top of the pyramid. The state teams make up the next rung. But down below are the thousands who have (or think they have) the talent and would want to rise up. They spend their own money, time and efforts which most of them could ill afford. They do this for the love of the game and not for the money. If anybody could complain it must be these cricketers, umpires, groundsmen and other staff who help a few of their colleagues to the top. But I don’t think they would complain. It is proof that if they could make it, they too would earn it. It would attract talent that would otherwise be side tracked.
I had a friend who came from a family of cricket enthusiasts / Administrators. He used to say that his uncle a good cricketer went to an interview with Bank of America straight from the ground. He was immediately given the job. A younger boy from the same family, played for South Zone U – 16. Promptly on getting into Loyola on sports quota he abandoned cricket and is now happily settled in Dubai.
It is those who have given up their other pleasures / ambitions, who toiled hours not for the returns but for their love of the game, who form the silent majority at the bottom of the pyramid. If a few of them come up and they make money we should not grudge them but be happy for it.
As a community we have been rent seekers. We have always lived off past glory. Real estate is the most lucrative business that we can think of. If in this environment, a few sportsmen are able to come good and shine based on their talent, they deserve to live off that talent for the rest of their lives. It would be cheap to deny them the hard earned, well deserved return.
In US they say everyone remembers where they were when JFK was killed. I took an impromptu poll on twitter on where they were when Srikkanth was run out for 65 in his first series against England in 1983. Every one remembered 28 years after the event. When I look back at my life the most pleasant moments I have spent with my father was when we were involved with cricket. Both of us are arm chair critics, nothing more.
That brings us to the next point. Why do we expect our cricketers to perform at their peak day in and day out when we refuse to do that. I have gone around the country spending time in various factories / businesses. We are country of mediocre people with mediocre talents. I have rarely seen people who take pride in their work, especially the quality of their work. If only we could channelize this anger against our idols into something productive. I am all for outrage but cannot understand why we labour to be Misguided Missiles. We fondly call them MGM.
The last point that I would like to make in this context is the abuse of the medium. Social Media in general and twitter in particular has given enormous power to the common man. And to quote from the Movie Spiderman “With great power comes great Responsibility.” We need to understand that we should not abuse this power.