Heading to my workplace a few days ago, I fiddled with the buttons on my car stereo to keep the Monday blues at bay. Whichever channel I tuned to was playing advertisement jingles, persuading me to eat this, drink that, wear this, live there, so on and so forth. The advices from the so-called experts kept pouring all through the drive, interspersed with music, of course.
Switching channels, I caught the words: "India mein logon ki ragon mein khoon nahi cricket daudta hai (In India, not blood but cricket runs in the people's veins)." I was surprised, and compelled to take note. Being a journalist, I also keep my finger on the pulse of the Indian consumers; but this advertiser knew them better than even they would.
It wasn't long before I reached office and came to know that the Indian women's hockey team had achieved a spectacular victory in the Hero FIH World League final by beating Poland 3-1. Throughout the tournament, the Indian team had maintained dominance, scoring 39 goals and conceding only 1. I was proud of our Women in Blue and happy for them beyond explanation. But the media?
Endless shows on television revolved around country's religion: cricket. We are in the middle of another World Cup season. Those
in the newsroom brainstorm about the latest encounters in the gentlemen's game down under. However, seldom in these days or ever I saw hockey, tennis, badminton and other sports being discussed or showcased.
I did not catch a single woman hockey player giving interviews on television, thanking her fans, family, or her sponsors for that matter. No experts came together to analyse how these incredible players won against odds. No pitch maps, or heat zones, or wishing the players luck. Just because it wasn't cricket, and involved the "weaker sex".
No that they would have forgotten, but I'd still like to remind sports fans that in the past one year, Indian hockey has earned glory at the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, and Champions Trophy, and now in the World League; and women's squads had a good part to play in those "Chak De! India" moments. Yet, these athletes are still searching for the fame they are entitled to.
If we can dedicate so much television time to cricket and give valuable space in newspapers to the abusive words our star cricketers hurled at each other and some journalists, the least we can do is give the Women in Blue their due. It's the attention they deserve. firstname.lastname@example.org
(The writer is an HT staffer based in Chandigarh)