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Slapstick revolution

A nation caught in the swirl of cricket’s latest show could lose focus from the issues that have cropped up, writes Pradeep Magazine.

cricket Updated: Apr 27, 2008 02:28 IST

"The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting''-
—Milan Kundera.

It has been a very eventful week, culminating in the `symbol' of the Indian nation's pride in Australia — in its war against the `sinister and evil designs' of the White world —now slapping his national teammate.

One can visualise the Australians chuckling and the Indian Board, which equated an indisciplined individual's transgression with what the Indian nation stands for, feeling embarrassed. Maybe this time Harbhajan Singh has stood for the pride of the Mumbaikars and maybe now the Thackerays will see Punjabis in a different light and even give them lifetime citizenship of Maharashtra.

But let us not get too carried away by these acts of childish indiscipline from our "venerated" players and applaud the ushering in of the "Promised revolution" by the BCCI, sorry, Lalit Modi.

Superhit muqabla?

And, going by the TV time IPL is hogging, you would think the world is watching nothing else but this slam-bang version of the game, which begins with a Bollywood star show followed by cricket and interspersed with skimpily clad women gyrating after every wicket falls or a six is hit or a boundary scored.

The crowds are filling in the stadia and it is a "tamasha" which has already been proclaimed a super hit, where even the soap operas are struggling to hold viewer interest. We are now even being told that the release of new films is being put on hold as distributors are worried that people may not want to miss their daily quota of IPL action and that would make a film suffer at the box office.

In this great attempt to make IPL appear the biggest success of the century none of us is being told about how the organisers, except perhaps in Kolkata, are struggling to sell tickets and most of the full houses that we watched are courtesy generously distributed passes.

For how long will the worried franchises, who have invested quite a fortune in their teams, be willing to let people inside the stadiums without charging them, is a moot point. At the end of the day, they are all in it for the business of making money and not proving to the world what a great concept this format of the game is and how India has revolutionised the world.

That the media too has lapped up this concept is evident from the space being given to it in newspapers and on the TV channels. What I found baffling was that when channels discussed the issue of cheerleaders, they only harped upon the wrongs of moral policing and how our politicians are 'spoilsports'. No one focused on the fact that the cheerleaders themselves are feeling harassed by the crowd and find themselves the target of appalling, disgusting and shocking comments, as highlighted in this paper.

Should we, in trying to become the new America, forget that women like all human beings have to be respected and can't be used as commodities in the name of entertaining people? I am sure America does not use cheerleaders for the crowd to leer at and degrade them, so why should the upwardly mobile Indian not find what is happening at these grounds embarrassing.

Blitz buries scandal

So powerful has been this new combination of glam and bang, that one of the biggest scandals to hit sports in India - hockey for sale -got buried in this avalanche of IPL blitz. We all knew something was seriously wrong with the way hockey is administered in this country and finally the Aaj Tak sting provided us the proof. Mr K.P.S. Gill's Man Friday - K. Jothikumaran - was clicked on camera accepting money to push in a player in the Indian team. Jothi had no choice but to resign but Mr Gill has no such compunctions! So what if he has been at the helm for the last 14 years? That, according to him is no crime and why should he be blamed for the lapses his handpicked official has committed? Unlike most weak men, our man is not a quitter, as he said in an interview, while defending himself and, as usual, adopting the tone of someone who knows, sees and does no evil. In my reporting career I have discovered that Mr Gill has the right people at the right places, who always come to his rescue as he alone in this country "understands" hockey and how it should be run! The poor reporters who question his credentials, find themselves, most of the time, at the wrong end of the stick.

Thanks to the new sports minister M.S. Gill, who asked him to quit, this time he may have bitten off more than he can chew, unless the the IPL makes everyone forget there is a sport called hockey too in this country which needs immediate overhauling.