Last night I switched on my television set hoping eagerly to catch some action between Australia and Scotland. What I got instead was Mandira Bedi sitting in a room full of ex-cricketers and one Mr. Charu Sharma ! Now, this is one of the most disconcerting sights on television. I will tell you why, in a moment. What I want to talk about is: the role of women in sports.
How important is the role of women in sports ? It is very important. For one, sports teaches us a lot about life. Sports helps build character; sports provides recreation; sports is the best way of staying fit while having fun at the same time. In a world where women work harder than men, it is absolutely essential that women get seriously involved in sports.
Now, when I say “involved”, I mean as sports persons — not as eye-candy for viewers. That is why watching Mandira Bedi is so disconcerting. She knows next to nothing about the game — all she knows is a few names and that there is a toss before the actual game begins (now, dont get me started about the toss !!!). Her comments are most rudimentary, plain and naive. What is even more frustrating is that she has not bothered to learn anything about the game since the last world cup when all this tamasha started.
Women have always been there in other sports. EPL on ESPN is an example. NBA Inside Stuff was another. I do not know if it added value to those programs since I do not really care a lot about soccer or basketball (what’s with so many people fussing over one lousy ball !). But cricket is different. As it is, it is very difficult to find commentators who make sense on TV. The Harsha Bhogles and Richie Benauds are very rare. Bringing down the standards further is glib-talk from people like Charu Sharma and Sidhu (one of the worst horror shows that I ever watched on TV was one of those pre-game shows featuring Mandira Bedi, Krish Shrikant, Mohinder Amarnath and Sidhu — dread !)
This has been a long time coming. The reason why non-sports channels like Sony and Zee are taking to cricket is the perception that the typical Indian cricket fan does not care about the subtleties of the game. He or she is only hoping that the Indian team wins. You only have to look at attendance for non-India games in the Championship Trophy to get an idea. That kind of following cannot be good for any game. It will eventually strangle the game.
People are saying that this is the beginning of the end when it comes to money in cricket in India. Commercialization of cricket has gone to its worst extreme. People have exploited every which way of making money out of the game. Very soon, there will be an overkill of the game. I predict that you will get to a situation very soon where you will have the option of either an India Vs Aus test match, India Vs Aus ODI or India Vs Aus Twenty20 — all going on simultaneously ! That is the day people will change the channel and watch Hum Aapke Hain Kaun instead !
I do not want to preach doom, but I think we have succesfully killed the gentlemen’s game. What do you think ?