Siddarth Sharma - sidbreakball

Interview with a malcontent Indian basketball fan

Published on
February 23, 2016

Originally published on 18 Jun, 2011 on Sportskeeda.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a malcontent Indian basketball fan and interview him about his passion for basketball. I think both of us came out of the talk more enlightened about each other's perspectives. Here's an interview with a malcontent Indian basketball fan.

Me: “Hello there. Thank you for taking the time to do this.”

“Satyanaash hai. Sab satyanaash hai.”

Me: “Uh. Okay. Anyway, let’s talk ball”.

“Talk!” he scoffed. “Talk” He repeated for emphasis. “What good does talk do? We can talk till the cows come home. It won’t solve anything.”

Me: “No. You’re right.”

“I always am.” he said petulantly. “Always.”

Me: “So, what is it that you want to do?”

“To act! We must get a move on.”

Me: “Where to?”

“To put a stop to this.”

Me: “Put a stop to what?”

“Everything that plagues basketball in our country.”

Me: “What does?”

“Corruption! Politics!”

Me: “You mean favoritism? Lax selection procedures? Match fixing?”

“Yes. Yes. This can’t go on.”

Me: “I agree its an issue at some level in some parts. What do you propose we do?”

“We must act!”

Me: “And do what?”

“Let’s get back to that later.”

Me: “As you wish. Let’s talk about the game. What do you love about basketball?”

“I love this game!”

Me: “Sure you do.”

“But my love is being hurt by unscrupulous vermins who are spoiling the game!”

Me: “How so?”

“There are no facilities! I demand indoor courts!”

Me: “Demand from whom?”

He looks around perplexed, then with a sudden revelation answers:

“The government!”

Me: “You do realize that there are things of higher priorities for the government. Over 40% of our population lives below the poverty line”

“Don’t throw stats at me. Let’s talk facts. There are hardly any indoor courts in India. How can we compete with other countries without facilities?”

Me: “So you feel that you are entitled to have an indoor court to practice on?”

“Yes. Me and everyone in our country. If we are to be a basketball nation we need this.”

Me: “What’s a basketball nation, in your opinion?”

“One that can compete with the best teams from other countries.”

Me: “Well said.”

“For that to happen, we need indoor courts.”

Me: “Shouldn’t one earn the privilege to play on indoor courts first? I mean they ought to put in the effort to raise their level of play and improve their physical fitness outside of swanky facilities before demanding indoor courts to practice on.

“How can I learn basketball on such pathetic grounds?”

Me: “I learnt the game on this one and I can take you.”

“Anyway, if you get to the top level, the national team does get to practice on indoor courts.”

“I could play for the national team.”

Me: “Not in the recent foreseeable future you couldn’t. Not with that frame.”

Pats his tummy and says: “I couldn’t anyway with the way the local competitions are organised. Basketball competition? More like basketball corruption!”

Me: “How does that prevent you from improving your game at a personal level?”

“Because basketball is a team game.”

Me: “So play pickup ball with other casual players. If you can develop to a high enough level, you should be able to play in competitions against the best.”

“No I couldn’t. Selection procedure is corrupt.”

Me: “There may have been isolated cases, but true talent isn’t held down anymore these days. Even if it is and you can’t make it on a team here, then just go abroad to play in professional leagues.”

“Indians can’t play basketball abroad.”

Me: “Ever heard of Geethu Anna Jose?”

“I mean Indian men can’t play abroad.”

Me: “Ever heard of Eban Hyams?”

“Why should I have to go abroad to play?”

Me: “The mountain may have come to Mohammad, but your game isn’t dope enough for selectors to knock your door down with contracts. You need to prove otherwise by doing whatever you can to make a name. Its on you”

“There. See. Its on me. How can you expect me or anyone to love the game in face of such adversity?”

Me: “Adversity? Its just a game. Adversity is poverty. Adversity is waking up and not having anything to look forward to because you don’t know how and where your next meal is coming from. You want to see adversity? Just take a walk down the street and look in the blank eyes of the homeless. They know adversity, and little else.”

“If you compare any problem to such an extreme example, everything will pale in comparison.”

Me: “True. That’s my point. Why not have everything pale in comparison? You have a comfortable life with food, clothing and shelter. You’re healthy. You are without disabilities or deformities. Why not count your blessings and see such minor stumbling blocks pale in comparison? And if you want to see a change, why not do something about it? Whining doesn’t solve anything. Get a game and take the court by storm. If not here, then somewhere else.”

“See. We’ll have to go abroad to play in pro leagues. You admit it.”

Me: “If not here, then somewhere else. It’s just a game. Play it for the love of the game.”

“I love this game!”

Me: “Yes, you’ve said so. So go out and play.”and just play the game 

What I took out of this talk was that the conditions aren’t especially conducive for the development of basketball in some parts of India. What I hope he took out of it is that complaining doesn’t get things done and that things can get better if one puts in the work.

Discussion of suggestions for helping the proliferation of basketball in India is welcome.

Siddarth Sharma - sidbreakball

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