Sunday, January 29, 2012

This is Sport ! This is Sport

This is Sport

Rafa Nadal versus Novok Djokovic. 

By Gaurav Parab

Watching sport serves no purpose unless one learns from those who play it really well. The lessons are in physical and mental skill and in overcoming challenges. I guess that’s about it.

Recently, I like many others have felt the sheer pointlessness of viewing sport under the onslaught of the cricket team’s performance and the in your face branding around sporting events that make every match a clash between nations, the last chance for redemption, the construction of a legend or battle for survival. Sport is never war. War is when brave people are shot and they die. Sport is people hitting balls at each other.

Yet, as I write this blog the most remarkable match is going on and it is threatening to take me back to my old beliefs. Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are 1-1 in the final set of a match of such a high quality that no one in the stadium or in their homes are moving an inch. Every point is a demonstration of sporting ability and self-belief of the highest order. It is probably going to end up as the longest grand slam final of all time. It is one of those rare experiences when it does not matter if you are Serb, Spaniard or Indian. You know that no matter what one player will do, the other will stand up to it. What Rafa and Djoko’s bodies have gone through in the last fortnight and the last five hours in particular is ridiculous amounts of pain and punishment. Yet, somehow mind is able to make body move.  And the body is moving like it is a dancer and doing things to a tennis ball like it was a prop in a magic show. This is war. This is sport. This is the reason why fans believe.

It almost embarrasses me to even discuss what the cricket team did in Australia and England on the same MS word page. But I have to get it off my chest. The score line does not matter. The swinging ball does not matter. DRS can go to hell for all I care.

I wrote many years ago that getting into the Indian cricket team is a triumph of the highest order. We have to support them no matter what. It is not easy to carry the burden on expectations. But the events of the last few matches have reduced the whole thing to a simple fact. The cricket team seemed like it was not interested in playing the sport that defines their life. And the daily lives of a generation of die-hard fans.

India has many like me. When we are not busy running over other Indians on the road, stealing, maiming, paying home loans, and being secular – we watch cricket. We watch cricket because the movies we make are lame, and the sports we love are not shown on television as much as cricket is. Virat Kohli, before the next time you show the middle finger - we watch cricket to the point that if India A was playing India Z today on television- I would probably change the channel from this beautiful piece of sport that is currently going on. 

Djokovic breaks back. It is 4-3 in the final set. And yes, Djokovic’s partner in the stands is a real cutie.

Recently, I received a letter about something I created. It basically said that my work is perfect yet there is no 
market for it. This is the sort of thing that can take out the air from your body and leave you a hollow shell with no confidence and drive to do what you love doing. In sporting terms, it is KO.

After a 31 shot rally Djoko has collapsed. The crowd is on its feet. Djoko gets up to play the next rally. His racket slips out of his hand. He comes up with a ripping forehand. The ball is called long. Djoko challenges. He is right. The ball is in. Sport teaches another lesson.

I was wrong with the first line of this blog. Sport just taught me that one has to get up and challenge every call. It is about trying every single ball. The old cliche about getting up after you are knocked down, anyone?

I hope that some members of the Indian Cricket team are watching the final of the Australian open. I hope the next time in Cricket too, no matter what happens – we can say that sport won before we get into thanking the sponsors. And truly feel that all of us who watched it won something as well.

Usually, the blogs here are about something. I am not sure what this one was about. I admit is a confused collection of a lot of things. Pardon the errors and the mish-mash that the whole thing has become. I am signing off by writing what I feel while watching Rafa versus Djoko today.

What I feel is simple. This is sport. And it is sport at its very best.

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Phani Kumar said...

Awesome... and that too very fast.... ;)

nightflier said...

can relate to a lot of it!
the sheer grit of both of them was inspiring and humbling at the same time!