Cricket, not just a sport

The after-effects of India’s defeat in the Champions Trophy is a sign of hyper nationalism

yoshika

Yoshika Sangal | June 22, 2017 | New Delhi


#ICC Champions Trophy   #nationalism   #cricket  
(Photo: Twitter/@ICC)
(Photo: Twitter/@ICC)

In this nationalistic age, sports seem to play an important role, and in India, this can be seen during cricket matches. For most, a victory symbolises prestige and supremacy.
 
On Sunday, India lost to Pakistan in the final match of the ICC Champions Trophy. The defeat was felt by cricket fans as something much more than the healthy rivalry we observed in our childhood school matches. While India had lost a match to Sri Lanka ten days before, the loss to Pakistan was felt much deeper.
 
India’s defeat triggered a social media storm, with people taking to twitter to vent their anger against the cricket team.
 
It would not be out of context to mention that in the midst of the Second World War, George Orwell, in his essay ‘The Sporting Spirit’, said that now “serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.” He calls this “another effect of the causes that have produced nationalism”.
 
The hyper nationalism was quite evident when India lost the Trophy, with many Indians taking to streets, breaking television sets, burning posters of Indian players and chanting angry slogans against the team.
 
While we saw this among spectators (or the die-hard cricket fans), it was assuring to see that the players are unaffected. “I don’t understand why people relate cricket to patriotism,” said Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza at a press conference of the Champions Trophy. “What do we do? If I say it very bluntly – we take money, we perform. Like a singer or an actor, we do performing art. Nothing more”. 
 
But, most are not buying that line of thinking. Ghayorul Hasan Rizvi, chief of the National Commission for Minorities, said that all those in India who celebrated Pakistan’s Champion’s Trophy victory should go there, or better still “be deported there”. His comments were in response to reports of celebrations of Pakistan’s win in Kashmir. Furthermore, according to a report in the Indian Express, days following the Pakistan victory, 17 people in Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka were arrested on sedition charges.
 
With sports being mixed with politics and, becoming an outlet for the feeling of ‘us and them’, one can’t help but wonder, has the idea of a sport changed?
 

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