The monsoon of moolah that has rained on members of the Indian cricket team that won the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa—cash awards of Rs 80 lakh each for the 15 players, a Porsche sports car for Yuvraj Singh who hit six sixes in an over, a Mercedes Benz for R.P. Singh—shows that success demands a DNA test to determine who its father is, while failure is a hapless orphan lying in the ditch.
At the same time, the goodies put in perspective the “step-motherly” treatment most other games get in a country where cricket becomes a religion only when the team is winning. The hockey team has registered its protest on the issue, but it’s Advani‘s (Pankaj, not Lalchand Kishinchand) reaction that should tell us on why there’s a good case to do everything in moderation, including moderation.
The 22-year-old two-time billiards world champion, who has won four world championships, is upset with the Karnataka government after it announced cash awards for cricketer Robin Uthappa and bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad for their role in the Twenty20 triumph on top of what they will receive from the cricket board.
“I have a couple of questions for the chief minister. Does a sports person need to go on a hunger strike to get recognition form the state government or does the sports person needs to be a Man in Blue to be recognised? I need my answers soon because I have been keeping quite for a long time and this is the time I need to get my answers as an achiever and as a citizen of the state. If four world titles, an Arjuna Award, a Khel Ratna and an Asian Games gold medals are not enough then I don’t know what is enough.”
But it’s the reaction of newspaper papers that captures it all. Here are a few samples from today’s Hindu, The Telegraph, and Deccan Herald:
S.N. Krishnan, Madras: The media coverage of the six-hour crawl from Bombay airport to the Wankhede Stadium was more than what even the Republic Day parade gets. But shouldn’t we be asking ourselves if we are not overdoing things a bit? When the BCCI and corporate coffers are brimming, was it necessary for various State governments to jump on the bandwagon and announce additional bounties? Don’t we have better and more deserving uses for the taxpayers’ money?
C. Selvamani, Bangalore: No doubt, cricket is a very popular game. But the bonanza of gifts to which our cricketers are treated and the manner in which they are being pampered are uncalled for.
M. Ranga Pai, Mangalore: It is shocking to see our Government rewarding the outstanding cricketers and other sports persons generously with tax payers’ money. Some of them are wealthier than a few cooperative banks! But rarely do we see them getting involved in philanthropic activities… So why not do the same for those in other fields as well? Here, I particularly refer to the Engineers of Public Works Department, who are in charge of several important projects. Whenever they complete the work in time and in the best manner expected, they should be rewarded, either as a team or as individuals, with wide publicity.
Ramani P. Easwaran, Bangalore: No doubt the Indian cricketers deserve to be congratulated on their Twenty20 World Cup victory, but are we not going overboard with our celebrations? Except for making a few rich cricketers richer, this victory will have no bearing on the day-to-day struggle of most Indians, nor is it going to change the way the world views India. Isn’t it time we got our priorities right?
N. Ramani, Madras: We do not honour our engineers, scientists and doctors who contribute to the nation. But we shower our cricketers with lavish gifts. There are so many poor in our country who do not get even one good meal a day. This is not to say that we should not praise the players. But why such fuss and extravagance?
B.M. Viswanathan, Bangalore: It would appear that cricket is the only sport that deserves praise and money. No wonder with a population of more than a billion we are unable to win medals at the Olympics. Treating cricket as the only sport that matters is no way to attract talent in other sports.
A. Sarat Chandra, Hyderabad: The sops being doled out in the name of rewards are nothing short of vulgar. Whose money is it anyway? Do players from other sports not deserve such attention? It is such double standards that are the cause of India’s poor performance in international sporting events.
K.A. Solaman, Alappuzha: The much venerated Sachin went into oblivion as he did not play. Dhoni and his team were transformed into heroes. If the players were to lose some time in future, the same fans will turn against Dhoni and Sreesanth and pelt their homes with stones.
S.S. Rajagopalan, Madras: The reaction of the masses to the result of a cricket match is funny and strange. If India wins, it is euphoria and if it loses, the players’ effigies are burnt.
Is cricket hogging too much attention? Or is it just a case of sour grapes for other sports? Do cricketers deserve all that they get? Or are we just jealous hiding behind other sports? Why should we be muted in our celebration of success when there is so little of it in our public space? Is it wrong for the media, advertisers and sponsors to try to exploit success on the cricket field, given the following the game has?