Life without sports

OMKAR PARANJAPE
Thursday, 9 April 2020

How a life without sports reflects in the society, Omkar Paranjape finds out.

Pune: Varad Shahane, 19, is a typical sophomore. Like many of his age, sports arenas mean more than the college auditorium for him. For he has been playing football religiously for almost five years. Needless to say, he is an ardent football fan who has been following the Premier League and other European football on TV religiously.

Apart from football, Varad takes a special interest in cricket and adores his IPL stars like Virat Kohli and Steve Smith.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect sports world for him and millions like him across the globe due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The current reading on the scoreboard reads: COVID-19, Sports 0.

There are more important things in the world than sports, of course, and because one of those things includes the sanctity of human life, the sports world has been sent to the dugout — or home in some cases — to slow and stop the spread of the lethal coronavirus.

Source of entertainment
As a result of widespread health concerns, sports fanatics have lost their main source of entertainment, their hobbies, their seasons, their raison d’etre and their connection to their favourite players, leagues and teams. Some have even lost their sources of income as society focuses more on social distancing and hand-washing than heroic efforts, silly moments and athletic achievements in sports.

What do I miss about sports?
For 27-year old IT professional Nakul Sharma, sports presents a great way to unwind after a hectic day at work, and he often spends planning his weekends around the sporting action on the tube.

"I miss the drama. Not the life-or-death drama we’re dealing with today, but the drama that at the time only seems that important. I miss the moments. Those moments of greatness that don’t happen every night, but when they do happen, we can only marvel at them. I miss the stories, and not just the ones about the stars, but also the unknowns," Nakul narrates on a telephonic conversation.

In a world where social media addiction is the new norm, there are still people who think Netflix? Amazon Prime? Disney Plus? Naah! Sports presents ten times more drama, tragedy, and plot resolution, where nobody is acting. Sports exudes more passion, emotion, and tears than the Ramayana and Mahabharata for those sports fanatics.

Cricket unites the country
On 2nd April 2011, Akshay Rahalkar chose to shut his shop at 12 pm in anticipation of a monumental day in the history of India. Akshay, who otherwise would be selling Alphonso mangoes in his 20 x 20 shop on Bajirao road, chose to utilise that space to create a mini theatre for his close pals. The buzz surrounding the 2011 World Cup final to be contested between India and Sri Lanka had by now gripped most of the country. 

As Akshay and his delirious friends celebrated India winning the Cricket World Cup at 11 pm that night, the euphoria reverberated across the length and breadth of the country.

" I can never forget the feeling when MS Dhoni lifted the World Cup trophy. Sheer Adrenaline. As a young boy I dreamt of my heroes winning this trophy; that’s where it all started. This is by far the best moment, and it’s the one I’ve been waiting for more than four World Cups.

The World Cup merely confirmed what everybody has known for some time now - India is the centre of the cricketing universe.

It was one of those moments that no Indian cricket fan is ever likely to forget — the six over wide long-on, the full swing of the bat, the bat-twirl after it sailed into the night sky at the Wankhede Stadium, and the man who had hit that six, MS Dhoni.

Second innings
For Shekhar Kelkar, a Pune based-businessman, sports acts a life down a different path from his usual hustles. Kelkar,61, has been working for almost four decades, but it is a sporting activity in the morning that still keeps him going. He dreamt of making a career in sports, only to be denied by a typical socio-economic constraint of securing the future.

" As a kid, I revered being on the field all the time, and I played for fun. As long as I can remember, I played to win. You'll often hear people talk about someone having a competitive nature. As long as I was on the field, winning was always in the front of my mind. Whatever I did, I wanted to be first," Kelkar recalled.

Unfortunately, he could not garner a career in sports. However, it is still an integral part of his lifestyle, and he is proud of it. To put it quite plainly sports is in Shekhar Kelkar’s blood.

Because sports isn’t just something fans watch or something that players play, its something that fanatics live!

Games will be played again, races will be run, and champions crowned again.

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