India enjoys hockey too

Hockey has a pan-Indian presence yet large sections of media preferred to focus on cricket even in defeat

shankar

Shankar Kumar | June 20, 2017 | New Delhi


#Sports   #cricket   #hockey   #media  


‘A game is a game and one should take it in that spirit’ is a common exhortation people make irrespective of their different backgrounds, ideologies and religion. But how will one explain the country’s sudden fall into a deep gorge of gloom when our cricket team lost to Pakistan in the Champions’ Trophy in the Oval, but no celebrations or expression of joy when our hockey team mauled Pakistan in the Hockey World League Semi-Final in London?
 
Most English-language dailies from the capital made India’s defeat in cricket the front-page headline. Some of them even gave pessimistic and gloomy headlines. The Times of India happened to be the lone English daily which displayed prominently India’s victory in hockey on page one.
 
In contrast, all leading Hindi dailies choose to highlight India’s hockey victory. Here, one will be tempted to say that English dailies have readers who are decision-makers, elites and highly educated middle class with different preferences and outlook, while Hindi newspapers have readers who come from humble background and prefer to stay away from glamour and pomp. Stretch this argument, it means cricket fits into English-language readers’ bill, while it is not the same with hockey. But question is why such partiality? Why the English-language media has a blinkered view on cricket? After all, cricket is not as pan-Indian as hockey. Cricket is not played in the northeast, while hockey is played in every nook and corner of the country. Secondly, cricket is seen as a vestige of British colonialism.
 
Even today, the Indian cricket team carries the logo which was designed by our colonial masters in 1928. On the other hand, hockey is indigenous. In states like Jharkhand, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, tribal children take to hockey and play it as spontaneously as a swan takes to swimming. Therefore, it is not right to give a large space and canvas to cricket at the cost of hockey. Rather, the fact is that hockey has moved up in the scale of performance within a limited resource. And also, mind the fact that hockey generates no less national sentiment. Rather it kicks up more patriotism and pride than cricket. But English-language media prefers to remain in its cocoon; it opted to give a larger space to Indian cricket team even in its shameful defeat on the front page than hockey, the sport which failed to become prominent headlines even in its resounding victory. The India versus Bharat factor was manifest. Unfortunately, like English dailies, several TV channels also do the same; they give major air time to cricket; they have hired former cricketers as experts for their daily show on cricket and yet none of them have any space for hockey. When India defeated Pakistan in hockey on Sunday, no channel devoted time on its television screen on this news as much as it showed repeatedly how Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli or Dhoni missed to live up to public expectations. This is not a good development.

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