Our Cricket Problem - Shashi Tharoor

Recently Shashi Tharoor, an under secretary to the UN, wrote a blatant article on the incomprehensibility of the intricacies of cricket to the Americans. Through the article, he basically surmises in very eloquent terms what I have always had it in my gut, "Americans, in general, are incapable of appreciating anything having a high enough degree of complexity and sophisitication". Its not that I woke up one morning and decided that this is how I was going to believe henceforth but this is how I am really led to believe after I have seen enough of the American society and culture. Traditionally, my character has not been like one of those open-minded people for whom no point of view is too stupid. I like to make opinions based on my observations and if there is enough evidence to the contrary, I would be more than ready to change them but never will I ever lurch in the diplomatic quagmire of "Well both a and b can be true". This time, rather than just rumbling my way through heated witticisms, I am going to provide you with some examples which I have come across and which serve to accentuate my point of view :

1. Sports : The most famous games in America are Football and Baseball. Now I am not very sure about baseball (having never seen a single game) but I think I have some idea about American Football. The most fundamental problem I have with the game is this : "Is there any talent required to play it ?". Barring the quarterback who atleast has to be good at throwing precisely, everyone else can qualify for the team just based upon his physique and his ability to run fast. There must be a certain game sense required to play this game but then these are required in all other games also. The difference between other games and American Football is that in addition to all these qualities, you also require atleast one special skill pertaining to individual games. Tennis requires wielding a racquet and much more, Cricket requires bowling talent and batting technique, Hockey and Soccer require control over Stick and ball respectively. What American football lacks in technique, it tries to make up for in animal aggression. Its not much different from that quintessentially American mind-dump of a game they call pro-wrestling. Riding high on baser emotions, American games try to blind their followers with maniacal shrieks and chest thumping and fist pumping and cheerleading. Am I missing something ? I guess it was supposed to be a game. (I give Basketball to Americans which, surprisingly, sticks out as the one saving grace.)

2. Food : The idea of good food for the general American is this (from what I have made from the ads): Take the largest seasame bun you can find, put 3 patties of extra large bacon, add 4 strips of beef then add 2 more, add a lot of mayo and 4 slices cheese, top it off with a slice or 2 of tomato, name it something masculine like 'Double Quarter Pounder' and sell it out to unsuspecting American public which is already bursting at its seems due to rampant obesity. I am principally against 'health foods' but this is just criminally offensive. What happened to those requirements we called taste and deleciousness. I would have understood that America, due to its relatively new society, hasn't been able to develop a traditional brand of food but what it has developed is just crap. No subtleness, no talent required to prepare it so no taste. I used to love chocolates before coming here (I still do) but after eating Hersheys and M&Ms, I have become principally against American chocolates. All quantity and no quality. Its everywhere. They tend to produce everything in bulk and in that pursuit forget the basic tenet of good quality.

3. Television : I think I have already dwelled on this topic enough so I will just cap it off by surmising my position. Most of the American ads and shows seem to target an IQ range of 80. Whereas on one hand, an obnoxiously loud car seller shouts on screen to gain the attention of prospective buyers, shows like Friends want you to laugh at completely stupid jokes.

All said and done, I would still say that the American society probably gives more freedom to experiment than any other. This is the freedom that drives mavericks to create special things and innovations and this is the reason why America leads everyone technologically. Even culturally, this is the freedom that has supported the rise of music as varied as Rock and Blues and Jazz and path-breaking movies. This is the freedom which allows races to co-exist peacefully (well, this and free market capitalism) and create a melting pot of various cultures brimming with creative possibilities. I must say, what America lacks in history, she is trying to make up in diversity. Breadth for length.

By the way, here is the article by Shashi Tharoor:

Our Cricket Problem

I completely agree with you Mr. Tharoor.

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