Atanu Dey On India's Development

Like Cricket? Tell Marianne.

A French journalist, Marianne Enault, is writing a piece for a French newspaper about cricket fever in India and wrote to me requesting help.

A disclaimer first. I don’t follow cricket. I don’t see what the whole fuss is all about. I am eternally puzzled by the fascination with scores and statistics. I find the jingoistic association of the performance of the team with the pride of the nation fairly distasteful. In my opinion it is a silly game invented by the English idle-rich to pass their worthless time. Not that there is anything wrong in the rich idling their time away between fox hunts and golf. It is their time and their ill-gotten wealth that they are spending. The proof that the game is silly is that the unthinking masses consider it significant. If that was not enough, the Indian government gets into the act as well, dictating who can play, who can broadcast the matches, and other trivial pursuits. You know that something is wrong with the whole exercise when the government of India has to get involved in a game. My antipathy towards government involvement in anything other than in law and order, money supply, and defense is deep and abiding. But that is another story.

I should add that there is nothing wrong in the fascination of the masses with bread and circuses — they need that and are willing to pay for it. As an economist I have full confidence in markets and individual freedom. If that is what they want, then that is what they shall get.

Sorry for the digression. The point was that Marianne (see her blog L’Independante) wants to hear your story regarding cricket. She writes:

“I am a French journalist, living in Pondichéry. I’m reading your blog every day. A french newspaper asked me to write an article about how indian people are going to live this cricket world cup. I need some testimonies supporters who are doing crazy things to support their team or to see a game. Please, if you know some of them, give me their email. Otherwise, can you put a message on your blog ? It will be so great !”

So there. Write to her at enaultmarianne at yahoo dot fr.

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  • http://www.priyank.com/ Priyank
  • http://kumarsbol.blogspot.com/ Kumar N

    Hi Atanu,

    Just curious: Does your antipathy towards cricket extend to other sports as well, say, sports that are popular in US – baseball, basketball, american football etc?

    Also, if you don’t follow cricket, I don’t understand why you had to humour Marianne by posting her request on your blog.You could have declined her request considering that what she wants to cover is not the general popularity of cricket, but the ‘crazy deeds’ of a few followers out of the ‘blue billion’.To me, her angle to the whole event comes across as a contrived ‘anthropological interest’, meant to pander to the lower denominators of the readers of her newspaper.

    IMO, the masses (including all of us) need something or the other to feel passionate about.Better cricket than say, religion.

    However, agree with you on the stupidity of the Govt involving itself in sporting matters.Also, if I remember correctly, the Supreme Court upheld the contention of the BCCI that the ‘Indian’ cricket team represents the BCCI and not ‘India’ the nation ! What twisted and utterly useless logic.

    Atanu’s response: Kumar, no, my antipathy does not extend to all sports. Cricket stands alone in that regard. I think my distaste has to do with what I consider the mindless obsession with the game I note among the people of the so-called “Third World.” This is true with American football as well. I dislike the para-religious status of football among Americans. And that may be the clue. As you note, people need to have a passion. In some cases, the passion is for knowledge and understanding, in others for amassing wealth, and in some cases it is about “doing what god ordered us to do.” Jihadists are passionate people. Perhaps if Islam stressed sports and music and dancing, the world would have fewer suicide bombings.

    So all things considered, cricket is better than jihad but not as good as a passion for amassing wealth or finding things out.

  • http://sloganmurugan.blogspot.com SloganMurugan

    I think a majority of us Indians do not care about cricket. The substantial few who do and the media is responsible for all the madness. Let them have fun.

  • http://inagardencalledlife.blogspot.com Eroteme

    I can never understand what drives this nation bonkers about cricket, and that too watching it (I enjoy playing the game, but can’t stand watching someone else play it). It’s like something else I think that should be done in person versus watching someone else get the pleasure of it. This whole passion for having a passion seems a little skewed. Must we have a passion, if we aren’t passionate? I really hope that the team is grounded and made to play better before the indulge in anything (like streaking their hair in advt.). Not for the nation, but for some self-respect…

  • http://inagardencalledlife.blogspot.com Eroteme

    I can never understand what drives this nation bonkers about cricket, and that too watching it (I enjoy playing the game, but can’t stand watching someone else play it). It’s like something else I think that should be done in person versus watching someone else get the pleasure of it. This whole passion for having a passion seems a little skewed. Must we have a passion, if we aren’t passionate? I really hope that the team is grounded and made to play better before they indulge in anything (like streaking their hair in advt.). Not for the nation, but for some self-respect…

  • Manu

    I see left-leaning tendencies in this line:

    “It is their time and their ill-gotten wealth that they are spending”

    :-) Just teasing you. Don’t take me seriously.

  • http://kumarsbol.blogspot.com/ Kumar N

    “Perhaps if Islam stressed sports and music and dancing, the world would have fewer suicide bombings.”

    Interesting point there.A few years back, I read some where on the internet (probably an article by Rajeev Malhotra of the Infinity Foundation)that there is a possible link between mythology (or lack of it in Islam) and Jihadism.

  • ravindran

    Oh, finally. It was really hard to find someone who does not follow cricket.

    Infact all this commotion about cricket makes me feel as if my brain lacks serotonin or something like that.

    In my adoloscence I was as much interested in cricket as most people but I grew up lost the fascination with it as I found other things which interested me. For me, sports at best is for some physical exercise and fun. not for scores and national pride and all that nonsense.

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  • Niranjan

    I do love the game of cricket but I hate the cricketing system in India. When we have just 11 heroes for the nation of billion, then idol worshiping becomes possible. I live in USA now, and here each town has a team and a set of heroes for that town. There is no one Tendulkar for US.

    The other thing I hate in Cricket is that the ordinary/poor cricket has to beat the system to come up in the profession. But here, college recruiting is amazing. I do remember one kid from our neighborhood, got offers from 20 to 30 universities just because he plays football(well!). And the length they go to get that player! If there is talent somewhere, then they will find that. But in India, you have to be rich & connected to succeed.

    Do anyone know where all the cricketing money go? I am surprised to find that a lot of universities here generate a lot of cash (by just having 6 home football games). I know that Indian cricket do generate a lot of money. Where does it go?
    If someone does some research on that, it would be very useful.

  • http://oltsm.blogspot.com Abhijit Gadgil

    A Few points,

    I don’t know why others watch and follow cricket for – but I am a big fan of the game for the sheer pleasure I derive watching Australia play, which is also the reason why I love watching Federer play and this “pleasure seeking” is similar to pleasure one derives in listening to shehenai by Ustad Bismillah Khan say (which I don’t care a bit about.) Following a game with passion doesn’t make a person or crowd foolish.

    Another interesting point which I happened to remember about Cricket and American football or Soccer mostly Team Games a bit OT. (I read it probably in “billions and billions” by Carl Segan). Why are we so much fond of team games. He argues thats it is in our genes (ie. in the genes of males of our species). Most of our ancestors (men) hunted in teams and hunting was a team sport. That probably also explains why women love shopping, women were gatherers!

    Coming back to ill-gotten wealth. Whatever may be the ways (questionable perhaps) but the wealth was earned by industry and smartness (just because they made fool of people who were already fool enough doesn’t make them worthy of being condemned). Now if that is ill-gotten, so be it.

    Coming back to Islam – This is my personal observation, probably needs to be corrected. Most of the successful people in the field of art, music specifically follow the religion of Islam. That may be a coincidence or may be not..