Sunday, March 27, 2011

On the chin

...Linus loses when Lucy lands the knockout pu...Image via Wikipedia
A couple of days, South Africa were knocked out of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 in a typical, long-associated-with-them batting collapse that saw them concede a half-won match to New Zealand. Hundreds of pages had been devoted to their tendency to "choke" already and this most recent episode of epic on-field nervous breakdown will contribute a hundred pages more to their tragic history of cricket World Cup performances. 
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The South African team did once successfully chase down 434, the highest run chase in cricket One Day Internationals history (a record which still stands) in a super high pressure series decider against the then-top team in the world, Australia but as is human nature no one seems to remember this monumental achievement of theirs when their critics fire up the "CHOKERS" branding iron.
http://virtual-inksanity.blogspot.com/2009/06/434.html
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The South African captain, Graeme Smith, was visibly shattered by the chain of events that led to his team's loss when he spoke at the post-match presentation. His response to the first question put to him about his sentiments was something to the effect of "Words can't describe how (bad) I feel right now. We just got to take it on the chin and move on..." In that brief statement projecting the image of having received a knock-out punch to the chin, was embodied one of the major lessons anyone from full-time professionals to back-yard team reserves take from playing a sport, any sport.
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Losing in sport hurts, in a very bruising sort of personal way. Most people know the bitter aftertaste of defeat even from being on the vanquished side of a close neighbourhood terrace cricket match. It's funny because it is a stupid (at least it seems so in defeat) set of enforced rules that we subject ourselves to and then gripe about how the others outdid us in this simulated restricted environment. Isn't life and its real world issues complicated enough to keep us busy instead of us voluntarily participating in stress inducing play-acting?
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Sport (especially professional sport) is often criticized for promoting the "Winning is everything" philosophy. "Do what it takes" is unfortunately a very fine line away from "Do whatever it takes" and the reason why some sporting greats (Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Maradona spring to mind) I feel are poor ambassadors of the central idea behind sports no matter how talented they might be. Because the beauty of sports lies in playing by the rules, not flouting them when nobody is looking. In busting your gut, in drowning in sweat, being delirious in pain - and yet losing out because you were just that half a percent short of what was required to win. And then return next time, digging yourself out of that emotional black hole, ready or should I say hoping to write a new chapter.
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The real reason why thousands of kids around the world, look forward to after school hours or holidays with such anticipation; bat, ball or racket in hand is a lot more sublime than the crude sentiment of "Winner takes all". The sometimes gritty nature of playground sporting battles, does not take away the fact that in the end, even the most bitter of quarrels was settled and some of our most pleasant childhood memories comprise of friends and experiences on the playing field. Through the joy and the disappointment of being bound by a common set of play rules, a message of balance is being broadcast to us, a slightly modified version of what those who denounce sports say. "Winning is indeed everything... but no one can win all the time" And that is a lesson well learnt, in sport and in life, especially for days when you have to take it... on the chin.

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5 comments:

Kumar Bibek said...

Let's wait for the semi-finals :D Damn!!! It's a weekday..

Roy said...

@Psycho: Ha! I am glad that even people in India can't watch the first half if they go to work! I on the other hand can watch only the first half. The second half will have to be through CricInfo! :(

Kunnu said...

@roy - crictime.com
live streaming...hope ur company allows..haha

Kumar Bibek said...

That pathetic site already has so much load, why do you want to hook on more users Kunal??

Kunnu said...

@psycho - works perfectly in my office. Not that I need it tomorrow. Videsh mein baitha Roy ka kuch bhala chahta hun main..haha