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”.
Me: “No. You’re right.”
Me: “So, what is it that you want to do?”
Me: “Where to?”
Me: “Put a stop to what?”
Me: “What does?”
Me: “You mean favoritism? Lax selection procedures? Match fixing?”
Me: “I agree its an issue at some level in some parts. What do you propose we do?”
Me: “And do what?”
Me: “As you wish. Let’s talk about the game. What do you love about basketball?”
Me: “Sure you do.”
Me: “How so?”
Me: “Demand from whom?”
He looks around perplexed, then with a sudden revelation answers:
Me: “You do realize that there are things of higher priorities for the government. Over 40% of our population lives below the poverty line”
Me: “So you feel that you are entitled to have an indoor court to practice on?”
Me: “What’s a basketball nation, in your opinion?”
Me: “Well said.”
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.
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.”
Me: “Not in the recent foreseeable future you couldn’t. Not with that frame.”
Me: “How does that prevent you from improving your game at a personal level?”
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.”
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.”
Me: “Ever heard of Geethu Anna Jose?”
Me: “Ever heard of Eban Hyams?”
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”
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.”
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.”
Me: “If not here, then somewhere else. It’s just a game. Play it for the love of 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.