If you’re in India and throw a pebble at random, it will hit the fandom, I mean a fan, a cricket fan. I was also a cricket fan till I was in the eighth class in school. Having become a topper I was under immense pressure to keep performing and thereby I said goodbye to cricket. I felt it was naive to waste energy on something which was not going to be of use to my career.
But fandom in me didn’t die so easily. I always kept an eye on Rahul Dravid. What a great character this man had, full of sacrifice for his team and never big on making personal records. Whole country was in awe of genius of Tendulkar but I was always looking at the scores of Dravid. I had long since given up following score cards but used to read about Dravid. I saw myself talking to Dravid or playing with him in my dreams. His persistence, tenacity and sincerity made him a great role-model and I used to keep his poster in my room in my college days, along with Federer’s. Before that, in 2003, when detachment towards competition was growing deeper in me and I was fighting with insomnia, anxiety and ulcer, Dravid scored a great double century which saved a match against Australia in Adelaide. He scored three double centuries in a span of 6 months as did Ricky Ponting and I thought these two will keep repeating such performances. Little did I realize at that time that all people including artists and athletes have their peaks which they might never be able to touch again.
When I was a fan I was a die-hard fan. When I stopped being a fan I stopped being a fan but Dravid kept inspiring me with his great character. When I started learning Astrology I examined his birth chart and found clear support for his greatness there. It was only after I stopped being a fan did I realize why it was naive. In those days, one of my friends used to go to worship room and chant gayatri mantra with beads so that Sanath Jayasuriya would get out soon. There were mute wars, arguments and betting amongst friends over so many things. Collecting cards with records of players, reading sports magazines(how I used to take pride in knowing records of Sir Donald Bradman to Vivian Richards all by heart!) and copying many bowling actions was routine for me and many friends. I feel I spent a great amount of energy in being a cricket fan as was and is a custom in Indian gullies.
Sports, like religions are memes and they use their vessels. Fanaticism, be it in sports or religions is fatal. It ruins lives. It spoils friendships and families. On positive note it brings people together but the downside is as down as the upside is up! Being from a humble economic background I could never imagine people breaking their television sets when their favorite football teams lost in european countries and even when I was a fan it used to make me wonder how foolish those fans were. In the last decade and half-scores of cricket matches, players and all have stopped thrilling me altogether. During 2011 world cup when I was watching the final it seemed like a fixed match and even when I was not following it, it was apparent that richest cricket boards buy their way out in most of the tournaments. Clearly most of the young lads either don’t know this or don’t want the spell to fade subconsciously. It seems too much to them that Cricket might just be WWE in disguise. At once we were also fans of WWF, thinking that they were real wrestling matches!
Mankind has been fond of stories. Entertainment is a great need. Entertainers are treated as heroes. Some heroes are worth more than entertainers but it’s the entertainers who are kept at the highest pedestal–which clearly goes to show how powerful an impact boredom has on human existence. Boredom is the force supreme. Like sports fandom is religious fandom. I am a Krishna fan and you are a Gandhi fan. He is a Jesus fan and she is a Buddha fan. We don’t realize that it’s the one light shining through all forms, we just hold tight onto some forms and become their fans, so much so that we start spilling blood of other fans in the name of fandom. When this dream ends, if it ever does, there will be no sports, no religions and no wars, no fandom!