Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hope and Wisdom

The world is an unexplored place, an unseen, un-experienced place for most of us. We have seen, read and heard many things, understood many facts, accepted many truths, but due to many physical, personal, social limitations and constraints we haven't been able to see them or verify them for ourselves.

I haven't seen how deep Marina Trench in the Pacific Ocean is, I haven't seen Viruses or Cells that are factually the most basic elements that make up living matter, I haven't experienced the height of Mount Everest, nor have I seen the largest man-made structure in the world- The Great Wall of China. And when I think of doing these myself, I feel a certain rush. I feel a certain desire, a desire to go out & achieve it, to experience it, feel it, see it and do it for myself. Of course it has all been done before and is verified & tested by various scientists and researchers numerous times, but what good is a fact if you can't prove it (by "you", I mean people like you & me, who haven't done it ourselves but are aware and known to the facts). Of course, we still believe they are true, proven but it is the certain feeling of doing it for yourself that makes it really worth doing..

But keeping to what I want to express through this piece of text, let me put focus on the very first line starting the post- "The world is an un-explored territory."

And indeed it is. There are many things which we haven't seen, but not just those things that we haven't seen, but there are many things which we know to be true but things which we don't anticipate, don't prepare each other for. And it's not just limited to various things outside our control, but it is very true for things and creatures to know about and in understanding whom we have made significant and complementary progress. 

There are many things that happen, many actions taken by our known ones or by the people or individuals who we think we understand, that baffle us, that make us doubtful and lead to many scenarios that we don't generally prepare ourselves for. People do things you never think they would do, things that you never think they could do. But in this way life teaches you in something, something worth learning. Whenever such things happen, It gives you a lesson; you have to learn and understand it and use it to be wiser in the new tomorrow.

Some of such people who have surprised me and many others, are the Major Tennis Stalwarts of India- Mahesh Bhupati, Rohan Bopanna, Leander Paes. They are mentioned in that order because of the timings of their actions in that order. 

Firstly, Mahesh Bhupati surprised (rather, perplexed and startled) the nation by announcing that he would not pair up with Leander Paes, India's highest ranked professional Tennis Player in Men's Doubles and his usual men's doubles partner, for this year's London Olympics. Paes & Bhupati  have been India's most successful pair in the Doubles category of Men's Tennis and have been very successful in all the events they have participated in throughout. Together, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati  have won 26 titles together, including 3 Grand Slams. Their Career record is 303-103, and they share the longest winning streak in Doubles in the Davis Cup, that of 23 consecutive matches. Also, they have been known to be very close friends and partners, even though their friendship has seen it's bad times in the past. 

The decision came at a time when the All India Tennis Association (AITA) was announcing the teams to be sent to the London Olympics. Refusing to the AITA's decision, Bhupati openly declared his feelings towards playing with Leander Paes, and refused to be teamed up with him for the Olympics, and in the forseeable future. He chose Rohan Bopanna, to be his partner. 

This was a very selfish decision by Bhupati, beacuse by this decison, he was putting his own ego in front of his country. He was choosing not to play with Leander due to his own personal problems, and denying the country it's chance of bagging a Medal in the London Olympics. 

Later, Rohan Bopanna supported Bhupati and agreed to partner only him, for the event, escalating the problem further

However, any problem rises only when there is a failure of the parties involved to work out a compromise, and it can only happen when both or all the parties involved are adamant on their own stands. 

A few days later, Leander Paes broke his silence and hit out at Mahesh Bhupati & Rohan Bopanna by saying that there should be an adequate punishment for players who refuse to comply with the decisions of the highest authority of the Sport (here AITA) and stating that it would be unfair if the AITA gave in to their demands. He also said that it was wrong that due to the dirty politics of the two players, his dream of  performing well in the Olympics would be put on stake (since he would be paired with a much lower ranked player in the event). Above all, he threatened to pull out from the Olympics Team if such unfair and unjust treatment was meted out. 

In my opinion, It is really sad to see India's Medal hopes being put at stake by the icons of Indian Tennis by putting their egos in front and not thinking about the country above themselves. Both Bhupati & Bopanna are really unprofessional and immature not to think of their country first, and being adamant on their decision to dictate terms to the AITA and the entire nation. Leander Paes also, is wrong to threaten to withdraw from the Olympics if his choice of a partner is not met. This is due to his ego, that refuses to accept being paired with a lower-ranked player for the Olympics. This is really wrong. He should remember that he was once a rookie himself, and if he would not have been trained and taught in the proper way, he would not have been able to do what he has today. 

Paes, Bhupati & Bopanna need to accept the AITA's decision in the best interests of the nation and play with all their commitment and effort to ensure that India gets a medal in this category of the Games. It is very wrong for the players, who have been able to reach these heights only because of the love & support of the nation and it's people to let them down, they should put their best foot forward in the best interests of the nation and give in their bet to win a medal for the country and make everyone proud. 

Another important event that has caught the attention of all is the impertinent refusal of the BCCI to allow DRS (Decison Review Sysem) to be implemented in all the series that are played between various teams in the sport of cricket. 

While the BCCI has been stubborn in it's refusal to allow the implementation of the DRS, many other nations have given support to it and the ICC has many times put the forward the proposal to allow it's usage in many international tournaments and series. 

The stand of the Indian Board on DRS is really baffling. They continue to say that the use of DRS should not be made since it's not foolproof. But going by that logic, they should also not have various cameras during the match present to allow better decisions such as Run-outs and catches since there have been instances where the video or sound images have been ineffective and inconclusive to prove a decison. Many other reforms and advancements that are used today would not be present in the world of cricket if the BCCI's logic had it's way. 

What the BCCI needs to understand is also that any technological advancement or development is not error-free especially in the initial stages, but it is only due to subsequent and continuous testing and experimentation that we obtain a better product and help develop the sport better. 

It is true that the BCCI enjoys a financial clout in the ICC, with the majority of revenue of the international body being supplied by the Indian Association. But that is no fair way or right reason for it to exercise it's power for getting things done according to it's own selfish interests and objectives. It is wrong of the BCCI to arm-twist the ICC into get it's proposals done. Yes, It is no hidden fact that the BCCI holds a lot of influence in the ICC due to it's monetary power, and this has also been the bane of many other  countries who have felt disadvantaged due to the many unfair practises of the Indian Cricket Board. 

The BCCI must remember the times of the CA (Cricket Australia)- ECB (England Cricket Board) domination and how wrong it felt to have them all powerful and influential in the ICC, and heed to their lessons in the past.

 Any sport can only progress when the members co-operate and harmonically work together to ensure that fair treatment is given to all, and fair objectives of all member countries are met.  

Now, These days, The biggest football tournament of two years is going on. The UEFA Euro 2012, being hosted by Poland and Ukraine.With a tournament so big and so highly reputed, there are many special situations that are bound to happen. Whether they are about a team losing earlier than expected or a dark horse arising above all to suddenly take the stage, you can find all types of stories and happenings in the world of sports and football. This Euro also has it's own share of such news, which are being discussed universally by all football enthusiasts.

 There have been many instances worth chatting about but I feel the most prominent one is that of team England and their performance in this year's event. Also, their subsequent elimination from the tournament in the quarter-finals. 

The England team started off their campaign with a Hard-fought draw against France. They went on to win their encounters against Ukraine and Sweden. However, it wasn't the results of Team England that came into focus, but their style of play.

 Teams like Spain, France & Italy, had noticed that England were playing very defensively throughout the tournament. Before the arrival of Wayne Rooney (vs Sweden) after his 2-match suspension, England had only Danny Welback as a goal-scoring opportunity in the front. There was also substitute Theo Walcott and the inspirational captain Steven Gerrard, but apart from that there was no other striker or attacking player in the field. England were not passing enough, not obtaining any possessions and were only fixed on one single department. England seemed to be playing with a defensive approach, trying to frustrate opponents in all their attempts and then hoping to score something in their own counter-attack. 

Many said that with their manager changed just two months back, quite close to the start of the tournament (Roy Hodgson) they were little prepared for some major strategic transformation than their usual style of play. That could have been an excuse, but it seemed to be something else when England mid-fielder Scott Parker (EPL club Tottenham Hotspurs) went ahead and said that it did not matter if the England Team were playing ordinary or Ugly Football, as long as they kept beating opponents and winning. Sure they had been lucky at times (John Terry kicked the ball out of the goal when the ball had crossed the line vs. Ukraine or the goals that was given off-sides vs. Sweden) they were winning and that only mattered. That statement from the England Mid-fielder showed that the defensive Approach of England was not just a backup plan but a full-pronged strategy charted for success for the team in the Tournament. He even went on quote the name of the Team from where this approach has been inspired- Chelsea. But while Chelsea rode on pure luck and unbeatable chance to somehow get the Champions League Trophy this season, England could do no such thing. After all, till when could this faulty and incomplete strategy work? 

Sadly for them, The English team had to learn this lesson the hard way, when they were knocked out in their own game by Italy, who themselves are masters of defense. It is hard to see that such talented players, of the quality of Steven Gerrad, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welback that have never won a major tournament for their country so far but it will not happen unless England get their act together and play with a better plan and objective in the coming tournaments of FIFA World Cup 2014, Brazil and the next Euro.

Another instance of an unfortunate or wrong event happened in India when Mahi, a 4-year old girl lost her life after she fell into an open borewell in Manesar, Haryana. 

The Haryana Govt. initially shocked all by stating that there was nothing new in Mahi's death and that such instances happened everywhere. However, after the huge media outcry and public pressure, they were coaxed to act. The little girl, who fell into the open borewell repotedly either while playing or while looking for water joined some other known children who have given up their lives due to the negligence and inaction of the bureaucrats. The borewell, which was nearly 70 feet deep was uncovered and unprotected against such happenings. 

After the 85-hour ordeal when she was pulled up by the rescuers, Mahi had already died. A twitter user summed up the feelings of one and all by saying that, "It is not that sad that Mahi, another kid in India has lost her life due to bureaucratic shamelesness, but it is very sad that she might not be the last one.."   

It is very sad to hear to some of the news but it is also important to note that there is always a lesson in all these happenings. Tennis ego clashes teach us humility, and being devoted to make the nation proud, BCCI stand-off teaches us not to be a bully when we are in power but being fair and equal to all, England's one-sided approach shows that no mission is ever complete without a proper plan and the unfortunate event of Mahi's event teached us to be careful always, and that a little carelessness can sometimes prove lethal.

It is for us to learn these lessons, and understand them to ensure that such events and incidents do not happen again. After all, a great man has said, "Making a mistake is human, learning from it is wisdom and repeating it is stupidity."

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