Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cricket versus Hockey (or any other sport)

We have an obsession with cricket in this country. It is the most popular game, and maybe there are valid reasons for that. It has been marketed wonderfully, and people's involvement in the game has been raised to such a high degree that when the finals of the Twenty-Twenty were taking place in South Africa, the roads in Delhi were deserted, and for the next 2-3 days, the newspapers had major sections covering the event. The players were heroes, welcomed by the state government on arrival in Mumbai, with the BCCI doling out large sums of money to the players. Now, so far, the BCCI is a body for cricket, and it can give awards. But the Government has to appear broad-based and fair to all sports, and yet we know that is such a fiction. So, we have the hockey players, who won the Asia Cup when no one expected, protesting against the doling out of money to the players by State Governments.

Irked by the step-motherly treatment meted out to the Indian hockey players by the central and four state governments, when compared to the sops given to cricketers after their win in the Twenty20 World Cup, the team members have decided to go on a 'hunger strike'.
National Chief Coach, Joaquim Carvalho strongly objected to the announcement of cash awards by the Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and the state governments of Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Karnataka to the cricketers while ignoring the victory of his wards in the Asian Continental Championship early this month.

This is a perfectly valid argument. It may seem that the hockey players are being jealous, but the fact remains that the Government has no business giving cash gifts to players of one game, and totally ignoring the others. And that too for cricket, where neither the players nor the board require any form of support from the Government. It is other sports, suffering under abysmal conditions, without sponsorship, and with very little money (as demonstrated in the hit movie 'Chak de') that need Government support. But then who ever said that the Government made sense.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 10:17 AM