Saturday, March 24, 2007

Is it a bomb? Is it a stock market crash? No, it's the World Cup

Apparently there's a World Cup on. And apparently India is out of it.

The only reason I know this is because everywhere I go complete strangers, seeing that I'm Indian, strike up conversations with me to share our (supposedly) mutual grief.

This can be rather disconcerting. The thing is, when someone comes up to me looking obviously distraught and says "Isn't it terrible what's happened? With India?" I tend to picture scenes of violence and carnage - bomb blasts, twisted railway carriages, people being slaughtered on the streets - that sort of thing. So when I discover that it's just a lost cricket match, my natural response is to chuckle in relief and say "Oh, is that all?" This, it seems, is not done. If you're Indian you're supposed to treat every lost wicket as a blow to your immortal soul. Anything less and you're a traitor to your race.

The truth is, all this fuss about India losing the World Cup always reminds me of those conditioning experiments of the behaviouralists. You know, the ones where you feed a pigeon the first couple of times in response to a certain behaviour, condition him to behave in that way, then stop feeding him and see how long it takes before he realises that the behaviour is unconnected to the response and stops trying.

The last time I checked, it's been almost a quarter of a century since the Indian team won a World Cup. And from the headlines I see on MSN every time I log out of my Hotmail account, it doesn't look as though they've been particularly successful in other tournaments in the last couple of years. Any reasonable person would have reasonably concluded therefore, that India was not going to win the World Cup, and would have seen yesterday's result as confirmation of a strongly held hypothesis. Instead, we have people acting as if they've been struck by a bolt from the blue. And wondering how their team could have lost despite their loyal support, as if the two things had something to do with each other. It's pathetic.


Anonymous said...

Thank God, there're more Indians who think like this!


Spunky Monkey said...

I started devising new plans to kill them.
I made quite a list. Involving hungry crocodiles, scalpels in funny places, medieval torture instruments etc.
And then.
I stopped caring.

Anonymous said...

And there are smart asses like you who really dont follow cricket and then think that anyone who does should not react to it strongly.

Sire, first try following the sport for a while first.

Spunky Monkey said...

Thinking of killing them is a pretty strong reaction i would think dude.
It's just that it is SO not worth it.

Cheshire Cat said...

This defeat hurts Indian cricket fans, but it hurts even more those whose involvement in the game stems purely from greed. So it's hard to feel too sorry...

Revealed said...

I hear the appropriate response in these situations is to say "Don't mention the C-word" whenever one sees a mournful desi approaching one :D

Anonymous said...

For a blog that claims to hate pop culture, it's strange that here is where I learnt about:
1. India in the cricket world cup
2. Celebrity big brother
3. Oscars
4. Aishwarya Rai's love life

-- Bill, who is now "socially aware"

DufusMaximus said...

Sports has very little to do with rationality, in case you haven't already noticed. Rooting for your team and hoping it wins is a LOT like hoping true love exists.

CuriousCat said...

I am a fan of yours Falstaff, but I have to agree with DufusMaximus here. And this amount of irrationality we need, for fun in life (not to the extent of demolishing Dhoni's house, but still...)

karlton said...

ok i officially love u.

Falstaff said...

N: Thanks

spunky monkey: huh? kill whom?

anonymous: But that's the point, isn't it - following a sport should mean you have a greater ability to predict the likely result, not a lower. And I'm not saying people shouldn't react to it strongly, just that a) there's no reason to assume that other people share in your mania and b) it's ridiculous to be outraged by something entirely expected.

cat: True, true.

revealed: Ah, I shall remember that and try it in the next World Cup.

Bill: Ah, but hating something and ignoring it are two different things. What can I make fun off but pop culture?

dufusmaximus: Fair enough. This may explain why I've never been able see the point of sporting activity in general.

curiouscat: Perhaps. I think what I find hard to understand is the obsession with winning / losing. If the point is to have fun I don't see how who eventually wins matters. People make fun of Test Matches because they invariably end up being drawn, but to me that's the one redeeming quality about cricket.

karlton: errr..thanks.

CuriousCat said...

@ Falstaff : Again with the caveat that what I say applies only when excersised in moderation, Sports is about vicarious pleasure, you get high when your team wins and you cannot get high if you don't get low when they loose. "It's just a game" is a maxim for the morning after your team loses for all fans of all sports

dazedandconfused said...

yup, agree with dufusmaximus. Nothing wrong with being passionate about a losing cause as long as it doesn't lead to destructive behavior.

z said...

a) there's no reason to assume that other people share in your mania and b) it's ridiculous to be outraged by something entirely expected

completely agree with (a). Regarding (b), can the most mature sports-lover be expected to be so mature? :) Say,
Hypothesis A: team one supports will lose
Hypothesis B: team one supports will win
Say, B has 10% chance to be true and A has, say, 80%. Nevertheless, if one is interested in the sport, one has no choice but to bet on B, as if it does come out to be true, the potential gain in terms of joy is infinite (yes, it does settle down quick, though). If A comes out to be true, there is always "its just a game" thing - in other words the potential loss is not as much as the potential gain. Mathematical hope! :) Just an application of pascal's wager here.

PS: the above applies to 'sane', non-violent people.

Swathi said...

and I thought I was the only Indian who does not seem to bother about India losing World Cup.

ah, I notice that u still use hotmail :)

Nandan said...

mistaken.. terribly mistaken you are falstaff.. your ignorance is ok.. but to infer from your ignorance is sad.. if you would have been a follower or even bothered to check.. you would have found out that india went in as favorites.. and no, no by the indian media or indian ex-cricketers.. but by australian, english, sri-lankan and west indian cricketers/ex-cricketers..

so your inferences and statements are unfounded.

do up some reading and enlighten yourself or dont bother making such unwarranted and untrue comments. (check the archives for information)

Falstaff said...

curiouscat: Fair enough. I guess I just don't understand the whole winning / losing thing - but as I said earlier, that's true across sports, not just cricket.

d&c: See above

z: I take it you meant that to add up to 100%. I guess I'm more puzzled because most of the reactions I've heard involve shock. The scenario you describe makes sense, but you'd hardly be amazed if the 80% scenario came true, would you?

swathi: Not really. I have a hotmail account that I use as a junk account - give it out to people I don't want to hear from, or on websites where I need to provide an e-mail id but expect to get a lot of spam.

nandan: Even if that's true, it only suggests to me that cricket 'experts' either don't know what they're talking about or are just being polite. It's not statistically valid, of course. Still, if 'following' the game means that you end up making worse predictions about it than if you don't follow it, I think I'll stick with the latter, thank you.

Notice also that it isn't just about this World Cup. This pattern of clueless fans convincing themselves that India is the favourite and then being shocked when the team doesn't win has been playing out for as long as I can remember. Take my word for it: India is NOT going to win the next World Cup. Remember, you heard it here first.

Tabula Rasa said...

i'm not sure which experts nandan is referring to (and i couldn't be arsed to check) but i do think it's interesting that the team standing 6 or 7 in the official rankings would be going in as 'favorites'.

Pri said...

We played miserably in the series before the last World Cup but we still believed we could win. We came 2nd. There’s nothing wrong with passionately loving a sport and supporting your team. It is after all the only sport where we can compete with the best and it gives us something to cheer about. So of course we're upset with the loss. Nobody’s asking you to be in mourning for the next month but that doesn’t give you to right to dismiss a sport or a team you know nothing about. So write your beautiful short stories and classical music pieces but don’t mock something just for the sake of being the super cool Desi blogger with no interest in the nation’s obsession.

nandan said...

haha.. taking your word for cricket is like asking you to take my word for literature.. just coz a team didnt win doesnt mean you dont/wont support them anymore!

tr - interestingly, the fact that india went into the WC as favorites is based on statistics.

falstaff - you aint for cricket mate.. not cut-out for it.. like i'm not for literature.. hah!
no hard feelings! :)

should check out the link though.

Nandan said...

sorry.. the link did not show up as it was supposed to

Heh Heh said...

dude, i lost money because of this shit.. i believe i have the right to be depressed. i didn't think we would *win* it or something, but at the very least we should have made it to the second round.

Tabula Rasa said...

nowhere in that article does it say india are (were) favorites. all the article demonstrates is that indian players have been around a lot longer than players from most of the other teams. in fact, if one takes their logic literally (as i suspect you did), then the following statement...

England will be high on confidence after their tri-series win at the end of a long Australian summer but their World Cup squad is full of fledglings. All their batsmen put together have 13737 runs between them, well short of Tendulkar's one-day tally.

...should lead to the conclusion that tendulkar would be able to outplay the entire english team single-handed.

when in fact they have the #1 odi batsman in their ranks, while tendulkar languishes in the 20s.

Falstaff said...

nandan: TR bet me to it. If this is a reflection of what the experts say, then they're even more clueless than I thought.

Knowing nothing about cricket, I would have thought the only meaningful way of comparing sides would be to look at batting / bowling averages over the last year.The fact that India has a bunch of batsmen with high cumulative runs as well as great career averages suggests to me that they're a squad of aged has-beens. If we go by the logic of this 'analysis' the best thing the Indian selectors could do would be to convince Gavaskar to come back and play.

heh heh: Really? What odds?

pod said...

okay it may be a link that highlights the number of runs scored and wickets taken by an indian squad over the years... however there is something called a sell-by date, and there is something else also known as experience.. and the statistics given there do not only talk about the runs scored, but also how much each team's batsmen average, which in fact is the number of runs scored per inning.. which is a fair-enough indicator of how good a team's players are.. so don't talk nonsense about sell-by date etc...

furthermore, experts do not reserve the right to be correct all the time.. they can be wrong, but they do know about the game... those who believed india would be one of the favourites and would make it to at least the semi-finals include ian chappell and arjuna ranatunga.. alright india didn't perform.. big deal.. but to claim that you sitting in whatever town u are in know more than these experts after india has been knocked out is ridiculous..

they played poor cricket and they lost.. they were not a bad team by any means.. things happen.. west indies went into the 83 world cup as favourites, they didnt win.. india and pak in 87, they didnt win either.. england in 92, they didnt win either.. south africa/india/pak in 96, they didn't win.. south africa in 99, they didn't win either.. this time around india's chances were fancied, but they didn't win.. so what?

criticize their performance by all means if you want to.. but to mock those who follow the game is rather sad.. you don't support a team only because you know they will win.. it's like saying you like shakespeare because he probably is the most widely-read author of all time..

Subhadeep said...

One word. Condescending.

Dude, stick to the literary pieces, will you? THAT's what many (most?) of us are here for.