The world of sport is a world of passion, energy and, usually, of positivity. In an otherwise largely gloomy spectrum much in evidence around us, sport is a panacea which can elevate human beings from their hackneyed and dreary existence. In fact, of all the ways in which men and women mingle and interact, sport provides a platform which enables the most amount of adrenalin to flow and endorphins, happy hormones, to be released. Those who indulge in one sport or the other, especially from a young age, usually turn out to be balanced and level headed people. Exceptions prove the rule, of course!
The super Sunday that the world witnessed last week shook a lot of people out of their lethargic inclination towards the realm of sport. Cricket elevated itself to a yet higher level with a World Cup final which only the gods could have designed; except the atrocious final result, which was decided in favour of England by the lopsided boundaries-rule.
Roger Federer, he of sublime skills and majestic fluidity on court, and Novak Djokovic, of unlimited energy and feline speed, treated us to a tryst with brilliance which took our collective breaths away. They actually forced many of us cricket-crazy Indians to tune in to Wimbledon at the moment when both matches were almost orgasmic in the highs that they gave us.
Federer, almost 38 years of age, exemplified, as he often does, levels of fitness and excellence which defy logic. The fact that he lost his quest for a 9th Wimbledon title despite winning more games and more points overall, as well as blasting many more aces than Djokovic, shattered our hearts, for most of India’s tennis fans love Federer. But Djokovic, younger by five years, was just so athletic and unwavering till the very end that he could not be denied.
Meanwhile the cricket final had reached ridiculous levels of drama, what with catches being caught beyond the boundary and six runs being awarded, when five should have been, for a bizarre deflection off the bat of a diving and heroic Ben Stokes. The fact that both the match itself and the deciding super over were tied, was a one in a thousand chance, but the excruciating result brought into focus the bizarre boundaries rule.
Anyone who has played or followed cricket will tell you that a run accumulator who scores his runs in singles and twos is as effective as a boundary hitter, who in fact may be less reliable. When the number of runs scored by both teams in the designated overs are the same how can one be penalized for having batted differently? It is like saying that the team which has more wickets which are clean bowled will win the match over the team which claimed its wickets mostly through catches in the outfield. In my view the provision of another super over should have been a part of the rules. And if even that failed to provide a result, England and New Zealand should have been declared joint winners.
But what was heartening for someone like me to see was the level of interest and excitement generated by both these matches. Even grandmothers who have never watched any sport in their lives, were found gushing with the sheer excitement that the two championship finals generated.
Sport has never really been a prominent part of India’s culture, having been relegated to the sidelines by society over the centuries. Very few people play active sport, if one keeps our humongous population in view. But by bringing sport to the front end of conversations and overall priorities, as opposed to keeping it on the backburner, a sea change can be brought about in the manner in which our society thinks and acts.
At a dinner event the conversation centered around the two high voltage climaxes which the world witnessed so recently. Topics like crime, politics and even complaints against the system were not much in evidence, though the people interacting were the same who are usually found indulging in discussions around these negativisms. For once, I realized, India is raving about sport. Now if only we had one more world cup final to be played, next Sunday!