And then, there is national games
As the cricket world cup makes its way past meaningless, uninteresting games that are a mere formality in the format that has been adopted in this particular edition – cricket must be the only sport where the rules of progress change with every edition of its prime event – there is something called the national games that will finally draw to a close on Saturday.
In the 12 days that the event stretched to, more than 10 lakh people visited various stadia, outnumbering the official capacity several times over.
The day India played their opening match of the world cup against Bangladesh in Dhaka, the mega sports complex in ranchi was overrun by people, making it difficult to walk.
This in no way means cricket doesn't rule here; M S Dhoni's arrival for a few brief moments at the venue wrecked havoc with everyone, including many of the participating athletes, wanting that one photograph with the India skipper. What it does mean, though, is that after the hockey world cup and the commonwealth games, this was yet again a reassertion of the fact that the Indian public sticks to cricket only because they don't get to see, hear, read about anything else.
In Ranchi, which has provided talented, successful sportspersons (not cricketers, however, before Dhoni) to several games through the years, the national games have been the biggest ever sporting extravaganza. Irrespective of the fact that many big names chose not to participate in a pre-olympic year, the crowds at every venue was heartening to see. And for every 10 people who were in simply for a day out with families – the entry was free for all – there were five who knew the sport and, more importantly, took pains to find out more about the athletes.