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Sight Screen

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Changing times

In the Rediff office in Mumbai, there are television sets scattered all over editorial -- and when India is playing, every one of them is tuned to the cricket, with volume at the highest level, matched only by the decibel levels of the various arguments that erupt around the newsroom on, say, whether Saurav should or should not be part of the side.
It can be maddening at times -- when play enters a cricketing phase, everyone clusters around the sets, and at times I found that particularly distracting, when I was doing commentary and needed to focus.
Or at least, that is how it used to be. This time round, I was doing commentary on a Saturday -- outside of a few people in editorial, the office was empty, and some of the sets were switched off. Then suddenly, a colleague from across the partition, part of the design team, came racing over, fired up a set, and frantically flipped channels till he found what he was looking for -- live coverage of the Formula I race that was on at the time.
That was my first indication of changing mindsets; the three months I spent there brought many others. In the clothes outlets in Bandra and elsewhere, you were more apt to find sweatshirts with the names and faces of football greats or racing champs, than of Tendulkar and Dravid and others.
In sports bars, youngsters -- wearing everything from the green and gold of Brazil to a Schumi sweatshirt -- could be found clustered around the TV, arguing heatedly over the latest football game, or Formula race.
Colleagues insist that the young are being weaned away from cricket; that their interest is increasingly turning to racing, to soccer, even basketball. I am not so sure, despite the evidence of my own eyes -- Shivaji Park seemed to be more crammed with cricketers than before; the game was alive and well in the gullies; in the hotel where I stayed, I was constantly finding myself in arguments with sundry guests over the latest developments in the Indo-Pak series.
What do you think -- is cricket losing its grip?
The thought, and question, were prompted by this story I found -- Aston Villa, apparently, is making a big push to garner Indian fans.


  • I am an avid follower of F1 for the past 3+ years. But in the same time my interest in cricket, and Indian cricket has also grown. Mainly due to more interesting test cricket being played, and ofcourse because of India doing well.

    So, in my opinion, Indian sports fan have got more options F1, football, tennis. But I see no decrease in popularity of cricket in India in recent times. If anything, people have got more interested in test matches becaues of our performances.

    By Blogger worma, at 11:22  

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