Monday, April 02, 2007

The Fair-weather fan

There are some ridiculous comments doing the rounds these days in India, about the Indian cricket team. Sack the players! Kick out the over 30s! And the most ridiculous of the lot – ‘Ban these cricketers from endorsing products!’ & ‘Don’t pay them their match fees”. While all the aforesaid comments don’t make too much sense, the ones that are the most ridiculous of them all are the last two comments.

Cricketers are marketable properties. If we see their ads 25 times a day, doesn’t mean that they had been shooting for those ads for 25 days. Its outright stupid to assume anything of that sort. They are multi-millionaires, but that is because of their own abilities. What the cricket lovers (what a loosely used term!) in India need to know for a fact is that none of us, yes, none of us, are paying the cricketers their salaries out of our own pockets, so who are we to question their salaries?

Why is it that the people, propelled by the media, are so angry with the team? Yes, they didn’t play well. But the cricketers are not on top of the world themselves after such an insipid performance. If we put things in perspective, they played one bad match against Bangladesh that cost us the Super 8. How come nobody is complimenting the Bangladeshis for a fantastic performance? And the Sri Lankans too? Did the team promise to come back with the world cup? Did they ask the media to run tickers, take signature campaigns, launch special programs to get more viewers? NO!! The answer is an outright, NO! Just because they played one bad match we seem have gotten a right to stop them from earning. If a surgeon cannot cure a patient, and the patient dies, does he/she still not get paid? That is a matter of life and death, and cricket is just a game.

Come to think of it, we hardly pay to watch a cricket match. It’s broadcast on a channel, out of the 100s that are beamed to our homes for which we pay 250 bucks a month. The cricketers never ever asked us to watch them play by switching to the channel that’s carrying the cricket broadcast. The endorsements that they signed were between the company and the cricketer. What the hell are the media doing, running stories and asking ignorant fools on whether they should stop doing endorsements? Nobody knows it better than a cricketer that if the performance dries up, so will the money. Let’s leave it at that.

The meaning of a fan should change. A fan, these days, stands for fair-weather friends. Where are the fans supporting the team when it’s down in the dumps? These are the times when the team needs its fans, but they are nowhere to be found. Maybe, this team didn’t deserve the world cup. But do we, the fans, deserve the cup? Well, we got what we deserved. A first round exit is just what fair weather friends deserve.

We have a right to be angry with the team, but in a civilized way. Not by wrecking their houses, endangering their young families, and certainly not by demanding that they should stop doing ads and not get salaries. Spare a thought for guys like Sachin, Kumble Sourav and Dravid. They have represented their nation with pride, had glittering careers, but do not have a world cup to show for their efforts of more than a decade’s representation. This was the last world cup for all of them. To crash out of it, the way they did, didn’t cause us a fraction of the pain it caused them. So let some sense prevail in the Indian fans and the Indian media.

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