Sporting Encounters

09 Aug,2022

 

 

By Ranjona Banerji

 

Ranjona BanerjiSome bits of good news from the Commonwealth Games, where Indian athletes have performed very well indeed. It’s also good to see sports back on the front pages. Kudos to those newspapers which carried photographs of athletes themselves on their front pages. And this is without the face of some prominent well beloved political hero in the background.

Some however, given the zeitgeist, have preferred to run with the photograph of the famous political athlete and only refer to the award-winning athlete by name. The news being that the Political Hero has congratulated the lowly athlete. One can appreciate their massive diffidence and general lack of courage. These are difficult times.

After all, there is news and there is news.

Sports experts will tell us that India with its 61 medals and fourth place in Birmingham 2022 had done better in 2018 in the Gold Coast CWG, where we got 66 medals and third place.

However, it is also important for journalists – and we usually forget this – to remember that all athletes show up to compete and win. No country in the world takes it back a notch so that India can win and politicians can start chest-thumping at home. The competition is everything.

This tweet by javelinist Neeraj Chopra to his competitor Arshad Nadeem of Pakistan encapsulates how athletes play the game. With grace, dignity and sportsmanship. Or should that be sportspersonship?

 

 

Sports journalist Mihir Vasavada writes in the Indian Express that we should diversify more, and that our success in track and field at Birmingham provided the fruit of that policy. Eight medals in track and field is something for a country which has not done well here, compared to our medals in boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, badminton shooting, team sports.

This is a link to his article which I am sure is superb, Mihir is an excellent journalist, a thinking writer. But I could not read it in totality because I cannot subscribe to every newspaper on earth. The loss of the reading public but that’s another story.

https://indianexpress.com/article/sports/commonwealth-games/indias-lesson-from-cwg-diversify-sports-the-eight-medals-in-athletics-is-a-landmark-moment-8078814/

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That’s it with the good news, I think.

For the rest, little has changed.

The economy ought to be the Union Government’s biggest priority. When asked by the Opposition in Parliament about rising inflation, the Union Finance Minister replied that she was made of different stuff and they just had to put up with it.

The bulk of the media as usual gave her a free pass, because that is how it works. You can simultaneously do stories about how the public are under massive stress and not hold the government in power responsible.

(They’ve got it down to a fine art, the way trolls know just when and how to attack you on social media.)

In fact, if you do an internet search on the Indian economy any number of news sites will inform you that the Indian economy is doing well, it is doing better than others and it will do even better in the distant future.

The poor Reserve Bank of India seems to be travelling on a different road, but it remains to be seen what stuff it’s made of.

If the media is not busy applauding various new government collapses engineered by their lords and masters that is.

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator. She writes on MxMIndia on Tuesdays and Fridays. Her views here are personal

 

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