Saturday, March 18, 2006

They Just Can’t Do it on their own.

Today morning when I checked my email, I found a reply mail in my mailbox and felt like writing a blog on that and bring to light the racist attitude we Indians hold today when it comes to the domain of sports and games.

In the month of September ‘05, I had been to Pune and while traveling back to Bangalore, I didn’t have an air/railway reservation and so had to take the bus. But that long bus travel of more than 15 hours was made all the more interesting as I managed to interact with Grand Master (GM in Chess), Surya Sekhar Ganguly. About two weeks back I learnt that he bounced back with a decisive win in the penultimate round of the ONGC Cup international Grandmasters chess tournament. (Source:"The Hindu")Since I had met him and we had spoken for a while, I sent him an email congratulating him.

During my travel, whatever interaction I had with him made be feel bad. A GM "struggling" on the revenue front and spends his prize-money to meet expenses and to travel abroad for attending international championships. Surya is a simple middle class man and hails from Kolkata. Modern day chess is more about adaptability to speed and technology along with the mental skills. Advanced Chess is about evolving a new playing strength in man versus man conflicts with each side using a state of the art computer to lower one's losing probability through a simple mistake, or in chess terms a blunder. I was awestruck to learn that Surya had to fund his own laptop, which he carries wherever he travels, so that he can practice the game using the latest software available. I could feel what he intended to say, there is a stumbling stone at every step in the form of lack of funds, ill-equipped trainers, no support from the Government and so on. I then asked him why was he in Pune, the reply to which was to meet and play some sessions with other GMs of India to keep his skills polished for the international trips, as his home state of Bengal, doesn’t have many shining stars. Because of his limitation of funds, he followed this training methodology unable to hire international trainers and afford for software that have the ability to calculate three million moves per second. In this manner the night was gone and we reached Bangalore early morning and I dropped him at his friend’s place before rushing for home. His parting statement though may sound philosophical to many but I realised the truth in his dream.

He has planned to take up coaching the kids and school children after his retirement. His philosophy as he told me was "Chess success is an intellectual achievement appropriate for schools. It belongs in schools because: it is a fascinating game,it can provide a lifetime hobby, it has international appeal, it requires a minimum of resources, and it demands that participants exercise their best powers of planning, memory, decision-making, judgment, creativity, and concentration. For these reasons alone, all schools should be providing opportunities for the learning and practicing of chess. Once they're exposed to the instruction, kids get chess fever. And once they get hooked, their desire to apply themselves soars. The ability to concentrate:really concentrate takes a quantum leap the minute chess sinks in. Indian chess is in a very, very bad state. There are lots of extremely gifted players but are facing a living death."

Also during the same time as I was flipping through the newspaper, I found that Bangalore girl, Nisha Millet, the Indian swimming mermaid has declared her retirement at the age of 24.The reason again no backing from sports authorities and lack of sponsorship, brought an end of another bright career. It was a really sad piece and simply showed that even after all these years of repeated political bullshitting of improving the sports situation in India,things are just where they were. Every time there is an Olympics or Asian Games, people say one billion people and one bronze medal, but they don't know what's behind the scene and how hard these people train. At the end of the day, all we are bothered for is certificates and medals, which is like asking a tribal ULFA activist to equal a sophisticatedly and thoroughly trained US soldier.

Nisha Millet was India's flag bearer at the 2002 Olympic Games at Sydney, Australia. An honor achieved by very few, especially at the Olympic Games. Coming out of a surgery for a benign tumor 'Osteoid Osteoma' in the lower back region and a lay off of nearly two years, she tried her level best. She comes from a simple family and her parents have spent close to 50 Lakhs on her career. Swimming doesn’t get much media attention and all the sponsors go straight to cricket. It is indeed very disappointing, but still she kept trying but after reaching the threshold she called it her day."Retirement". She is 24 and I liked one statement which she made in an interview in "The Hindu", that she is going for her MBA in Sports Management and she would do all that she can to improve the abysmal state of affairs as is existent today. "Bravo Girl Bravo".

Now here comes something really AMAZZZZZZZZZZZZZZING.

After making it to the cover of Time magazine, Sania Mirza finds herself listed as one of the ten people capable of changing the world by London's intellectual weekly New Statesman. Yes, perhaps a review of what Sania Mirza has really achieved. This young Indian captured the heart of India and the whole world by winning the 2003 Wimbledon Junior Doubles Championship and 2004 Hyderabad Open Doubles. The media, like hounds sniffing for a story, pounced on this and over-hyped more than just her game - her looks and her dresses, which later created quite a flutter with the Muslim fatwa.

There are a lot of deserving Indian females needing attention, perhaps some deserve it more than Sania. Why lift a Wimbledon 4th Rounder higher than a master swimmer or a chess International master, who too are looking for sponsorship. Personally I feel that the media’s over-hype has definitely gone to Sania’s head along with the newfound attention and advertisements.

This reason for AMAZZZZZZZZZZZZZZING: Sania Mirza being given Padma Shri.Every Indian even those with the bare minimal knowledge/education in him/her must ask a simple soul searching question. Just because that Sania Mirza is becoming a sensation and has risen above the pack of all tennis players to have ever represented India does not mean that the people at the top can do something out of the book. As far as the awards go, the Padma Padma Shri awards are those given for valuable contributions.

Sania Mirza also is more hype than substance though I had initially thought she really had the right spunk, attitude, and a good game, which she would improve on. But all that punk and attitude (and some argue, looks!) is all wasted if she doesn’t have the game. She is celebrated much for her attitude and fashion sense (she wears a nose-ring and librarian glasses). At Wimbledon, she wore a T-shirt bearing the slogan: 'Well-behaved women rarely make history'; at the US Open in September, where she lost in the quarter-final to the Russian sensation Maria Sharapova, her T-shirt read: 'You can either agree with me, or be wrong'.(Source:"The Hindu")

Sania hasn’t really been very consistent for the past 6 months and has been losing most of her matches in straight sets. Perhaps, she has lost her old touch after all the hype. Fame definitely eats up stars and I personally hope she isn’t the next victim of this devil. Yet, all is not lost for Sania yet. She should really concentrate more on tennis than modelling, advertisements and glamour. She is still only 19, intensive training can prove to be of help and she should return with a bang in the French Open and Wimbledon.I feel "Sania Mirza should behave like a Role Model, not a model". See gracious female players of yesteryears: Steffi Graf, Sabatini,etc.

Become the true "Sania Jaisee Koi Nahi" in the center court not off the court.

Don’t get me wrong, please. I am not advocating for any sports person, what I am trying to highlight is that we should move away from this media and hoopla stories and patronise meritorious ness may it be in any sport.

(Note: I am neither a cricket fanatic nor do I follow the game ever, though I understand the rules and regulations used in the game. Swimming, tennis and chess are the three sports that interest me and so made them visible here.)

Have a great weekend and remain connected.


At 2:13 AM, Blogger Ferocious Killer Kat said...

I agree, this whole sania thingy is now getting overhyped.. I sometimes think she is going anna kournikova way.. maybe I should not be commenting coz I have never seen her play.

sometimes I feel for the sorry state of our indian hockey team!! it is our national game by the way!! and india has won 8 olympic golds in hockey.. today they are beaten by the worse of the teams.. they don't have the right sponsorship.. india today still is in ice age when it comes to hockey.. most of the internal tournaments are held on grass grounds or mud grounds.. when the whole world is playing on astro-turf. how are they expected to win when there are such fundamental basic differences??? Just sorry to see the game that I first played and loved in such a state :(


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