Viewing, not playing is India’s forte
Don't be surprised if those watching Euro 2008 on TV in urban India may far outstrip even some of those European countries whose teams are battling it out in the tournament, writes Pradeep Magazine.india Updated: Jun 29, 2008 00:31 IST
What is better: playing a sport or watching it?
Sorry, this question is not meant for those who think cricket is the only sport worth playing. Let us face the harsh reality that there is more to life than cricket, cricket and more cricket.
And let us face the fact that India, no matter how much we want to believe that we are a global power because of our cricketing clout, is a sad case when it comes to events that are played all across the globe and not by just a handful of Commonwealth nations.
We are missing in action when it comes to soccer, where we are ranked around 154th in the world. And when the Indian middle class periodically discovers that soccer is the global face of world sport, they are forced to ponder why their own country is nowhere in the picture?
The blame is quickly shifted on to the greed and corruption of the sports administrators. The argument is that football is a common man's (working class) game and, unless the nation grows uniformly and not unevenly, it can never become a truly sporting nation. This is too "complicated" for them to take the argument seriously. It is better to watch a TV serial than burden your mind with such "specious" theories!
The same goes for all other sports, be it athletics, gymnastics or swimming. India figures nowhere on the world map and unless we correct this imbalance in our system, we will continue to exaggerate the importance of cricket and make it appear like the only sport that matters.
But make no mistake; we are the greatest global audience in the world. For instance, it was reported that TV audiences for this year's Euro soccer have dipped in England to abysmal levels because their own team failed to qualify for the event.
Don't be surprised if those watching the event on television in urban India may far outstrip even some of those European countries whose teams are battling it out in the tournament.
We are even told that since the "youth" in India is so hooked on to this "foreign" diet, soccer is getting popular in India and will help in its development.
Great if that happens, though kids in India have mastered this game when it comes to their Play Station Consoles than on the actual field. I am sure we will be contenders for the world championship title if a Play Station soccer championship is held.
I doubt if any one in the world would be able to match the dexterous use of fingers in scoring goals that the urban youth of India has mastered!
Brace yourself up for one final confrontation between brute strength, strategy and subtle skills when Germany take on Spain and don't be surprised if more people in the metropolis watch this final than they watched their own IPL final. To give the devil its due, so what if we can't play sport, we sure know how to appreciate it!