Cricket as shenanigans

Ridwanul Haque | Published: 00:00, Jun 30,2019

World Cup Cricket, Nationalism, Ridwanul Haque

—Apu's Cartoon

Do we know that last year, in case of open budget index ratings we were behind war-torn Afghanistan and right there with the corruption-prone Mozambique? We should not keep our eyes off these events even though the World Cup is going on. We should bear in mind that even if we reach semifinals or win this cricket World Cup, these problems will remain the same. We should not allow corporate sponsorships, gung ho advertisements, frenzied celebration and attractive schemes distract us and let cricket weaponise nationalism, writes Ridwanul Haque

ANOTHER one of the greatest shows on the earth is already rolling, so sweep the floors, and bring in the tapestries depicting what general people expect! Yes, Its World Cup Cricket 2019 where ten nations will compete against each other and the best one will come out with flying colours, why not to expect it is our country that will be the one?

We reckon for the best outcome. On every news media, on every social networking site a significant time is spent on analysing every phase of the game. Almost every cricket loving mind prepares for verbal wars constructing varieties of slogans, jerseys are sold like hot cakes and advertisements depicting love and inspirational cameos are aired almost all the day. People gossiping in tea stalls, cafes, restaurants or on the roadside juicing up the whole scenario; so, madness in the air is ubiquitous.

One might say that it is the team consisting of eleven players is playing the game for the country. Again, one might say that this XI is there to represent the whole nation's image and character. Well, no rodomontade please!

The first case is pretty normal but the later one is unacceptable. Why? Because the later claim enforces the fact that everyone supporting the team outside the field is, in one way or other, equipped with the bat and ball too! Why everyone should pay all of their attentions to the game, because winning or losing a match is a deal breaker? Does it put a nation above all or brings down the hill?

We have to bear in mind that many African and Latin American countries are doing well in different forms of sports and athletics but their economies are not doing well, their elements of democracy are torn within and inequalities are expanding in astronomical manner. Should we brag about our socio-economic scenario when we do well at sports?    

It seems like the audiences store surplus traumas — painful memory of drubbing pasts, defeats or misbehavior. They wait for the moment when the team wins and the pain gets assuaged and the surplus — petered out.

In that case victory march is imminent, words and slogans are eminent and the news of the victory becomes prominent throughout the social networking sites and news media.

Awards are announced for the heroes who have made it happen. Flats, lands, cars and money are on the usual award list. Most of the newspapers headline the stories and allocate significant amount of inks and spaces for related contents that feed the nationalistic sentiment, therefore hide the harsh reality. These all sound good, at least for the very moment these can appeal to a seasonal audience.

The words I will put next might not be that much appealing for everyone. You might find me nitpicking and busy in performing vivisection of nationalistic sentiments and its phenomena. You might call me a pariah, but I wish I could stand tall before a crowd and summon redemption for making a sport a red-herring which diverts people’s attention from important issues to less significant ones.

It is a success for the capitalist world and its rulers — televising sports to distract and stupefy the crowd, and above all — uniting the nation for the sake of the game while the nation is already divided by many forms of crisis, mainly socio-economic ones.

In every major towns and cities many banners and posters are visible in main points and circles evincing words and photos of political leaders, upcoming, ongoing or already completed projects. Then comes the visual advertisements of different products of different companies. And when such a major event like cricket World Cup is here, the landscapes change in a drastic fashion.

Walter Lippmann famously deplored such phenomena in his writing during 1914. He bemoaned ‘the deceptive clamor that disfigures the scenery, covers fences, plasters the city, and blinks and winks at you through the night’. Advertisement looked to be omnipresent. The sky in the east was ‘ablaze with chewing gum, the northern with tooth-brushes and underwear, the western with whiskey, the southern with petticoats, the whole heavens brilliant with monstrously flirtatious women.’ May be he was too harsh or satirical with his words but we are now seeing much more than these.

We know that ours is mainly an agricultural economy. Most of the people are employed in the agricultural sector. Just a few days ago the farmers were incurring losses and nobody was there to help them out in a satisfactory manner. Rather we saw some funny rescue missions like helping the farmers cut and collect harvests from the fields and pose for photo sessions that looked like ‘the saviors are here’!

Moreover, on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr, many workers from the garment industry did not receive their wages. Different natural disasters generally wreck havocs during the months of May, June and July. Heavy rain causes floods in the northern areas and water logging in the cities during this time. Meanwhile, annual budgetary session runs its course.

Do we know that last year, in case of open budget index ratings we were behind war torn Afghanistan and right there with the corruption prone Mozambique? We should not keep our eyes off these events even though the World Cup is going on. We should bear in mind that even if we reach semifinal or win this cricket World Cup, the problems will remain the same.

In the south eastern part of Bangladesh where different ethnic minorities are fighting for their rights, do we know their story? Do we know that the flurry of brain drain is at all time high? Some brilliant minds rose to fame internationally who were not treated and patronised well in the country where they were born and had to leave for better opportunities? We do not call for procession and mass demonstration protesting such mistreatments.

We do not want to be the voices of the unheard, but we raise our voices where the crowd is already heard — where the game is already won! We reward the national heroes of the game but we punish or discourage the minds who have the ability to invent, innovate and change the world.

Most of the times we forget to peruse hindsight or we do so subconsciously or intentionally. We should not do the same as our neighboring country does; we should not allow corporate sponsorships, gung ho advertisements, frenzy celebration and attractive schemes distract us and let cricket weaponise nationalism.

Only solving socio-economic problems can unite us, can empower unity with better prospects. Winning a game or a trophy will not do these.                     

Ridwanul Haque is interested in political economy and cultural anthropology.

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