If you are done grinning from east to west and distributing sweets in the mohalla, listen to me. What was your blood pressure in those anxious moments when India almost gifted a few wickets to Australia in the crucial World Cup quarter final? Mine was hitting centuries of a different kind. The day also happened to be my birthday and instead of celebrating over a relaxed candlelit dinner, I was biting nails in front of the TV all evening, and praying — not for a good year ahead for myself, but for India to win that day’s match. I have no more nails left to bite now when India takes on its loving younger brother, Pakistan, in the semi-finals but I’m sure as hell that the day is going to be quite profitable for cardiologists in the country.
What is it with sports and stress? My friend’s 12-year-old nephew suffers from acute anxiety whenever he watches a match. My 17-year-old neighbour is stressed about board exams, but a little less as compared to the stress of not being able to watch all the matches. My 23-year-old cousin is suddenly struck with divine realisation that she’s found the man she was waiting for all her life — Yuvraj Singh. And it stresses her out no end that media is bent on romantically linking her man to every pretty face on two long legs in the country. Some of my colleagues are ready with the excuse of an upset stomach to not turn up for work on the day of the semi-final.
Just that looking at their nervousness about how India will play, I doubt if it’ll remain just an excuse by the time that day arrives. Someone is worried about the money they’ll lose in satta market, someone is tensed about Sachin Tendulkar getting retired without hitting his 100th international century. And this is not even counting losers who end up taking their life when their team loses a match or those whose heart gives way when their favourite sportsperson doesn’t perform.
Net, net… everyone’s stressed. And then dictionaries of the world define ‘sports’ as a stress-busting recreational activity. Something, somewhere is wrong, don’t you think? I think what’s wrong is our attitude about the game. We tend to take it too seriously and too personally. Let’s look at a few calmness tips before we all have a nervous breakdown over the recreational ‘fun’ activity.
1 Remember it’s just a game and NOT worth getting sick over.
2 Remember that another country defeating yours does not suddenly make it superior. Sports, no doubt is important and ought to be encouraged but if athletic ability was the judge, Jamaica would have been a super power.
3 Remember that even if your team loses the most crucial match, it is still just a match and not the end of the world. For any team to win, another has to lose. Make peace with the fact that at times it will have to be yours.
4 Remember that a majority of hype around big ticket events like World Cup etc, is deliberately created to serve pure advertising and marketing interests. Enjoy the game, but if you have a heart attack or flunk your exams because of the game, you and only you will have to suffer for the rest of your life. The sportspersons whose loss has put you into that mental trauma will move on and may smilingly pose for endorsements the following day and maybe rightly so. When they realise it’s just a game, so must the fans.
5 And finally, remember that in this age of murky match-fixing, scandals whose veracity no one knows about, it’s rather foolish to be betting lakhs on games and crying later. Almost everyone who loses money, later says the match was fixed. Why even get into that tension and risk by speculating beyond means?
Sonal Kalra has decided to look at sports as just a means of recreation. But only after Wednesday. Right now its war-time. And the cardiologist better be ready.
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