The crisp sound of a masterly cover drive which has been middled to perfection, the resounding
thump of a tennis ball belted to and fro from the baseline, the sudden roar of a packed stadium as a
fleet-footed forward nears the penalty area, the pleasing thwack of a shuttlecock swaying back and
forth across a badminton net, the graceful gait of a rhythmic gymnast on the bare floor, the sheer
drama of a sprinter tearing down a track at the peak of his prowess, the upraised arms of a proud
champion, the pumped fist of a world beater, the hugs and huddles of all and sundry: Sports brings
all such magical moments to us, year after year, unfailingly and unerringly.
Thus, the absence of sports is being felt even more painfully in these times of a global pandemic. For
the first time since World War II, the Olympic Games had to be postponed. All sporting activity came
to a grinding halt, the world over, unprecedentedly. Hearts sank, heartbeats quietened, moods
plummeted and eyes became teary. Not only do sportspersons miss sport when it does not happen,
fans and aficionados sorely miss it as well. From couch potatoes who dearly look forward to events
such as the Indian Premier League (IPL), to coaches, scribes, managers, assistants, grounds men,
helpers, scorekeepers, referees and umpires, a whole gamut of people miss sporting activities when
they do not take place.
Fortunately, there are signs that sport is haltingly re-emerging from its hiatus. The England and
Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has happily announced that three Test Matches will be held against the
visiting West Indians in July, albeit in a bio secure ‘bubble’ or reservoir to be created at the match
venues. The Windies team will reside in quarantine like conditions at Old Trafford in Manchester for
three weeks. India is likely to play a Test series in Australia under similar conditions later this year.
European soccer appears to be limping back to some form of normalcy too, with players like Leo
Messi having started training while wearing masks. And Vietnam has allowed spectators to pack
football stadia without enforcing social distancing norms, even though people have to wear masks
and undergo thermal testing. The US Open Tennis Tournament is still planned to be held in August in
New York, though without spectators, and the French Open will take place in September at Roland
Garros, after being postponed from May. The tennis magnum opus, Wimbledon, sadly had to be
cancelled for the first time since the World War.
Even at the level of the common man, sports can play a rejuvenating role. With lockdown measures
gradually being lifted now, it is imperative that everyone gets cracking and indulges in physical
exercises outdoors every day. Playing a sport like badminton will enable all age groups to get back to
fitness after the forced lethargy of previous weeks. And to keep that sporting momentum going for
years to come should be the endeavour of all and sundry. Sport related exercises also help release
endorphins which are happy hormones that make us much more balanced in our personalities.
It is a proven fact that populations which indulge in sports have higher levels of happiness and an
enhanced sense of well being. By encouraging and urging youngsters to play sport on a regular basis,
our society can put paid to many of the ills which beset sections of the youth today, including drugs,
alcoholism and obsession with social media.
The mood of the world has seldom sunk to such abysmally low levels as it has nowadays. People are
clutching at straws to sense a whiff of good news from anywhere possible. Sport has the capacity to
uplift sagging morale and rejuvenate sunken spirits like no other realm of human endeavour can.
Nelson Mandela famously said, “Sports has the power to change the world!” Rousing people from
their deflated existence and inspiring them to get going once again will be a herculean task, given
the mass hysteria associated with the pandemic. But if one type of pursuit can re-energise, unite and
propel humankind towards a happier, healthier, existence, it is sports. Let’s play, as soon as we can!