Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Be a 'Sport'

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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Too soon to quit

Badminton is incredible. Not one of those sports that you need to warm up for hours before you get on the field, nor one of those that will hardly make you feel kicking. Inclusive. Energetic. Fun.

I used to play a lot earlier, and recent times have had lesser share of those sporting days. I do try to play at least a few days a week. I can’t think of a more fun way to spend my free time whilst feeling fresh! Much better than being bored or ending up going home and vegging on the couch after a hard days work.

Not a bad way to have fun, vent frustrations, and make some friends all in one go.

Earlier this week, I was out to Siri Fort (one of the sporting arenas where one can go and play). It was a choice between Basketball and Badminton on that day, and since our Basketball team was running late and was still on the way, we decided to take a sneak peek at the Badminton courts, to see if any courts were vacant for us to squeeze in.

Indoor courts at Siri Fort are awesome. I somehow like Yonex synthetic turf more than the wooden ones.

On the court right next to where we were standing, we noticed two kids on one side of the court, playing badminton with their dad on the other side. What caught my attention was that the younger kid, who I guess would not be more than 6-7 years old, had his left hand inside his tee, and he was keeping only his right hand out of the tee to hold the racquet, so that their team does not have unfair advantage over their dad, who was single player on the other side of the court. This kid was very energetic, running from one end of the court to the other, trying to pick every shot played by his dad. And his elder brother (who by the looks of it would be 10-12 years old) did let him do all the running. It was a fun filled court, everyone laughing around, full of smiles, entertaining.

Everytime this kid would hit the shuttle, he would turn around, look at us, chuckle, and again run around the court to pick the next shot. This happened for a while, and everyone was enjoying it. Then suddenly, he tripped while reaching for a shot and fell down. To my surprise, neither his brother nor his dad came to help him get up. The concern was evident on their faces, but they were trying real hard not to show so. And the young champ did not even take his left hand out of his tee to take support and get up. He slowly rolled around, and gradually managed to get up. And then it hit me! He had just one arm!

He got up, his dad and bro took a sigh of relief, and he started running around yet again and it was business-as-usual at the court once again. However, I got chills run down my spine - here was a little champ who had no qualms about what he did or did not have, and his family was making him feel as normal as he should be. The guy's a winner for me - all the way through. Hat's off to the spirit.

I didn't get a court to play badminton that day. I couldn't learn any new tricks of the trade. But the champ made me realize, it's always too soon to quit, come what may.