Yesterday, while I was at work, we came to discussing recent sports activities - how IPL has turned into a drab affair with no loyal following whatsoever, how CL final was one sided as well the night before, with Barca thrashing ManU handsomely, and how F1 has lost its following in recent times, though Indian participation has increased in form of Force India and Indian drivers on the circuit.
We recollected the time when in addition to Cricket, other sports like Tennis and F1 used to have a fan base too.
We got talking about the ongoing French Open, and how in the women's circuit, we hardly even recognize some of the names in the top seeds! How Federer and Nadal, and of late Djokovic have made waves, and no one else has come to the fore. How in the earlier times, Sampras used to be the undisputed leader, with only a handful of players like Agassi, Ivanesevic, Rafter, Philippoussis etc struggling to reach the finals, only to be thrashed by S. And before Sampras, there were Edberg, and Becker, and Courier, and Stich, and even earlier Pat Cash, and McEnroe, and Connors, Ivan Lendl, and many more. How Sabatini got the tag of one of the biggest chokers, and how Hingis, Graf and Seles used to be the numero uno in their own era. And why Navratrilova was the best ever. After Chris Evert!
I remembered how I used to wake up early in the morning to watch Australian Open on telly, and used to sleep so late at night to follow French & US Open. Wimbledon, as always, has been the prime mover anyways.
But those times are gone. No more dedicated fan following anymore. One just gets to know who won which Slam and thats about it. Is it because of so many sports channels that it becomes difficult to keep track of them. Or something else has changed!
Similarly for Formula 1. I remember that I was always out of home in the evenings, going out to play Cricket or Badminton or Football or something or the other - but I used to make it a point to come back home in time on Saturdays to watch the qualifying, and Sundays for the Raceday. How my study calendar used to have dates marked for the next F1 races, and how closely I followed rivalry between Schumacher & Hakkinen first, and then later Schumacher with Raikonnen & Montoya! How Barrichello used to play the second fiddle to S gracefully, and S was the undisputed leader of the time. The way the rules of the game have changed considerably, I can hardly imagine what all dynamics it has brought to the sport, and how the car makes such a huge difference now!
Those were the days when sports were enjoyed as sports - now it is just a matter of following something or the other. Ask people what's happening in Roadies or Splitsvilla and they'll tell you who's out and who's not, while Sports and associated passion has lost its ground to IPL and its commercial extravaganza! How long this will last, for what it's worth, is anybody's guess.