Change - A boon or bane in sport? ( By Redflame)

For all the abject innate human gratification indulged in, decorating our divine idols in any sport, there still remains an inevitable phase that reminds us of the ‘only reality’ we have to accept in resignation – ‘Mortality as the curse of time & boon of change!’

Be it a breezing ‘Bolt’, a ripple ‘Phelps’, a symphony ‘Sachin’ or a flower ‘Federer’, all have a past, pretty much like ours – We all started off as the same crawling infants braving those first few faltering steps, those occasional trips and falls, often painful tumbles, rolls and bruises. But no matter what the level of obstacles and falls, we got up more determined every time and strove on. Until finally a stage was reached where walking became as involuntary as breath. Common pages of history that stare back at any reader as he turns back the diary of his life!

With time though, we move into our unique destinies, by choices taken by force or free-will. And by the time we finally rest in our grave, each has a unique book for himself, in which he alone is the hero. But where along the path did those legends that once faltered like us as a kid, differ?

Sport is certainly one of those glorious chapters in this novel called life that instantly becomes a hit for it romances the mind and heart of any era, earning the protagonist fittingly a pedestal of worship and adoration in the hearts of a million and more. For, a fitting hero like that gives a spectacle to celebrate being alive.

With every sublime victory, each passing moment of awe, every instant of miracle defying logic, and inspirational struggle of determination in adversity, this hero starts transforming into an invincible master and finally a legend. So much so that we forget he is human for we’ve been taught to believe that ‘to err is human.’ Inevitably, there comes a time when he walks alone on the path of success, far from the madding crowd. He is glorified among the masses as he morphs into an enigma that attracts everybody. For while most chase dreams, they live it!

The truth remains that these icons are the only reason sport is till date our greatest theater of entertainment.

It’s in the midst of this extravagance of human virtue being dissolved in this exceptional winner that the curse of time strikes meanest. For, with time comes a defying warrior or more that is exposed in this invincible emperor; the long unseen erring human, of reduced agility and reflexes, stifling his sublime skill, burdening his indefatigable will. All our aspirations of embracing an undying immortal are crashed.The once invincible Federer, who went about his business, brushing the rest, earning a record 16 titles in half a decade, was stranded in his blocks by a single man Spanish armada, and wintry resilience of a Serb D’joke. An agonizing 2 years of no silverware which we were forced to long believe, as his fundamental right!

Not long ago we had innovative magicians led by Brazil’s Ronaldo, French’s Zidane and a host others who dissolved into the waters of obscurity. One fine day we got up to never see them amidst our dream teams.

Once upon a time not too long ago, there was the famed Indian batting line-up that reduced the rest to terror. Starting with an ‘explosive’ Sehwag partnered by a ‘resilient ticking run machine’ Gambhir, there followed ‘the impregnable wall’ Dravid. After all this, came ‘the 100 ton experience’ Sachin followed by ‘the belligerent Bengal tiger’ Ganguly. If you’d managed wading past all this, you’d end up facing the ‘elegant wristy sublime marauder’ Laxman and at the fag end, still followed by Dhoni’s ‘dispersing helicopter’, although this time to ‘cause a wreck’. No wonder this team rose to the undisputed Numero-Uno.

But just when it seemed a new super-power was settling, in a matter of few weeks, the tiger got extinct, the wall fell, the wrist wilted, the bomb was dampened, the machine lost its efficiency, and the helicopter was grounded. 8 losses on the trot and the throne forfeited. Time couldn’t be crueler to an Indian cricket fan.

Being another country’s fan doesn’t change it much either. Worst if you were the 80’s Windies’ patriot, probably a little less if you supported the 90’s n 2000’s kangaroos, now reaching you if you’d fallen for the English bet, and only a matter of time before a South African Safari shall return to the jungles.
In all essence it just epitomizes one truth – The Inevitable cruel curse of time.

Although amidst all this is another constant – CHANGE!

But how is change a boon, one might argue?

We moan that it was curtains on the galaxy of cricket stars, and possible failures in their absence. But we ought to accept it’s the darkest hour before it’s dawn, followed by the promise of a new day with its bright sun. A few mistakes can’t be the end of the road. Patience is required for when we trust change, the only change from negative can be positive. Already one can perceive a sun amidst the gloom of the dark cricketing clouds.

And here’s the final premise that is sure to raise a storm. Every fan has to accept that there reaches a point where the game is more an audience’s game than the player’s. Whether the player has a passion, talent, destiny blah… we have no qualms on enforcing our opinions of whether they must step down. Retirements are demanded, for we trust the players play into our wishes and that’s probably close to the reality. Analytically, after all in the longer run, sport is about making money, mostly from the pockets of spectators.

We discuss in forums, create live debates, pen articles, blogs, essays, draft programs like turning point, face the nation, opinion hour, fourth umpire etc… to express our views and make it clear to the legend that his long fragrant perfume has vaporized, best a distant memory.

Most complain, ‘why a retired Ferrari Icon Schumacher who once raced his way to 7 titles is back in the track competing against 5 different few time championship amateurs?’ For among the herd, he looks like a 1960 Ford; a glorious past, deserving of the best seat in a museum.

If not for the 2 year wait for Federer’s return to the throne, I’d gladly concede that his elegant pose with the silverware would probably be not as charming.

Frankly Sachin would remain my greatest batsman even if he walked into the dusk this very moment, for you can’t disagree with me that the sight of a 100 ton experienced master-blaster playing with restraint for whatever reasons is painful, while the rising sun at the other end seems to steal the warmth. It only gets tougher with every innings to savor his silent blade. With each passing knock, the Kohli’s and Chand’s lead the charge for the next generation’s debate of their greatest. That’s the game of change giving a beauty for every era.

‘Familiarity breeds contempt’ is the human psychology I hoped would spare sport. But alas, I was wrong.
Yes they are our dream, but dreams do end for ‘The Reality’ waits.

It’s harder to watch the curse of time being inflicted, rather than accepting the gradual boon of change. But the inconvenient truth remains – No time can live for eternity in one sportsman’s shadow and therefore it’s indeed the boon of change that soothes the curse of time!

As someone rightly said, “Enjoy the beauty of the moment as long as it lasts”

(This is a guest post written by Redflame:  An aspiring novelist who is passionate about writing poetry, short stories and thought-provoking plays...sports & love are his favorite subjects for writing, discussion or debate! )

For any questions, you can contact me at [email protected]

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