The Sports For Me

Until I turned 22 I watched a lot of tennis. Table tennis too on occasion but tennis was it for me. And therefore I guess I would have to say that I preferred individual sports a whole lot more back then. I mean I did love football but until 1998 I rarely got to see any club football at home on tv and would have to depend solely on World Cup & European Championships which happened once every 4 years and once in a while they might show some Champions League final here or there. But tennis was readily available atleast because of the 4 Grand Slam events and Davis cup rounds that happen each year. So you got a lot more of tennis yearly on tv which was back then only the national channels, 2 in number, that the Indian government strictly regulated.

In 1991-92 cable tv channels started blooming all across India and in my area we started subscribing to it in 1992 and got 1 sports channel. All day sports, wow. Now we have 8 to 10 such channels of which I get around 6. Anyway, I got to see a lot more sports and my options were many. I watched all the grand slams and many other tournaments on a regular basis. I never got into sports like F1 or golf or any of the other individual sports. Slowly club football matches started being shown with some regularity but if I am not mistaken it was in 1998 that the two main sports channels, ESPN & Star Sports, started showing the English, Spanish, Italian & German football leagues every weekend and some Mondays too and ofcourse the UEFA Champions league and UEFA Cup competitions. With 10 sports coming in options went up and soon we got a whole lot more.

Along with football firmly establishing itself as my main sport to follow, hockey or ice hockey also found a footing in my heart. That was in 2000 and soon I was hooked. The NHL hockey is my second favourite sport and even if I rarely get to watch games, except for regular Youtube highlights clips of each game that I watch as much as I can. I perfer team or club sports. I feel more as a part of something rather than just in an individual. You can have a lot of stars in football & hockey but they still are team sports and it forms a sense of community that individual sports just can get you.

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Error Of Judgement My Ass

I haven’t watched a bit of the Olympics this year. I haven’t watched anything of the Olympics for many, many years except for maybe a bit of the opening ceremonies and closing ceremonies. I think perhaps a few snippets during the news or sports round up watching some medals being handed out. I’ve never had much of a passion for the Olympics but yeah any Indians going for victory will have my support. This year I was hopeful that Sania Nehwal would get a gold for us and although she did get a bronze (and that too when her opponent had to retire with an injury) that’s still a proud moment for us. She is one sportsperson that I support with a lot of passion and she seems to be a very sensible person.

Ofcourse this year we had that huge stupid little scene of a gatecrasher, a fucking gatecrasher, at the opening ceremony. A young lady who was a volunteer for the Indian Olympic delegation and a dancer for the opening ceremonies, who was supposed to escort the Indian contingent up to the entrance and then back off, decided that she had to join them as they marched into the stadium. Clad in a red track top, blue pants and sneakers, Madhura Honey Nagendra marched in the front of the contingent alongside flag-bearer Sushil Kumar, smiling and waving at the cameras, before disappearing midway. This has got to be one of the most stupidest things I have ever heard or seen of in a major sporting event. That was so stupid. And it was so funny to see her bright red top and blue jeans clash (badly) with the smartly attired women athletes in yellow saris and the men in suits. She look so dumb walking along with them. And this is what she has to say! “Error of judgement!” Watch an interview with her

On The 2012 London Olympics

I can remember watching the 1984 Olympics or just bits of it here and there. I was a child of just 8 years of age and the opening & closing ceremonies struck a chord in my young, impressionable mind. And I guess every 4 years since then Olympic games has been as much about the ceremonies that sandwich the sporting events as the sporting contests themselves. 1988 Seoul had this song called ‘Hand In Hand’ that for me was rather cheesy but struck a chord in many. It was quite popular in India for a while. That was also the year of the Ben Johnson doping scandal. Those who don’t know what it was, google him.

I missed most of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona for some reason but did catch a lot of the 1996 Atlanta games. I remember something about Juan Antonio Samaranch’s closing speech which indicated that he wasn’t happy about the games that year as he usually calls each games as the best ever but he only said “Well done Atlanta” and called the event “most exceptional. The next olympic games were in Sydney and he resumed his former statements. Now around 1997-98 I lost all interest in the olympics and watched mostly tennis, football and in a couple of more years NHL. I can’t remember watching much of the games that followed Atlanta – Sydney, Athens & Beijing. I don’t think I will watch much of this year’s Olympics as well.

Maybe some of the opening ceremonies and if possible the football & tennis matches here and there. I would like to see what happens to the Indian contingent, especially the tennis players with all the controversy surrounding Leander Paes (he has threatened to withdraw from London Olympics rather than play with Vardhan whose world ranking is 328, following the refusal of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna to partner him). Let’s have a safe & fun games, whether I am watching or not.

A Good Biography / Memoir

Hmm funny enough I haven’t read that many biographies or memoirs but I actually find them very interesting and would like to read more. The very first one I read, and I remember this so well cause the book is something that I  hold very dear to me, is My Life & Game which tennis legend Bjorn Borg co-wrote along with the writer Eugene Scott. Published in 1980, it is a fascinating read in which Borg tells us his story from his childhood, to how he won his first real tennis racquet, to playing in the juniors and then on turning professional. He writes a lot about the events and things that happened to him uptil 1980. By the time the book was published, Borg had won his 5th French Open title and also won his 5th consecutive Wimbledon title.

He talks about his rivals, his friends, some great matches and tournaments. His endorsement deals are showcased. One of things I remember well is how he explains his initial emotional outbursts on losing badly during the junior years and how his coach smacked some sense into him. He wrote about being embarrassed about his behaviour and that led him to change his demenour and outlook and a legend was born – Borg the professional player was known for his stoic approach, barely any emotional displays and reported to have “ice” flowing in his veins aka the IceBorg nickname! The book also talks  about his romance with Romanian player Mariana Simionescu (who he later divorced) in July 1980.

Although I have since read a few more biographies/ memoirs, this one stands out as it was the first one I read. I was 11 when I started getting into liking & watching tennis and I got this book, along with a few others, back in 1988. I must have read this from cover to cover atleast 20 times. I think I sold this book along with a whole bunch of other just before I moved houses. But I always tend to remember this one very well.

My Sports Teams

Ok – just in case you are a new reader and have not yet seen the categories, which are shown on the sidebar, I mainly support to sports team. One a football team in the English Premier League and one in the NHL. Arsenal FC & Ottawa Senators. These are the two teams which I have wholeheartedly supported and can claim as my teams. I’ve supported Arsenal from 1998 and Senators from 2000. Although I’ve been a fan of & watched football from very early in my childhood, I usually watched international matches. I didn’t get to watch club football until 1998 and because some of my favourite players played in that club, I started supporting Arsenal. Now it’s like a part of me and I will forever be an Arsenal supported till the day that I die.

I got into hockey in the year 2000, when I just happened to watch some of the 1999-2000 Stanley Cup finals on ESPN. I got into slowly and then I also watched a sports weekly special in which they featured a little profile of each of the 30 NHL teams during the summer. The episode I happened to catch that day featured the Ottawa Senators. I remember then going online at a cyber cafe and reading a lot more about them and *snap* – they became my team and have been ever since and will forever be my team. No matter how great or how badly they perform.

Having said that I do also like other teams & clubs and from time to time envy their player squad (a coach once in a while) and wonder why my teams cannot get those players. Like this season for example – Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger has this policy of buying small and building from within, focusing on the youth and not wanting to spend exorbitant sums of money for players. And the Sens are in the process of rebuilding and hence, with just a handful of bigger name players, are mostly a squad of lesser known names. In no way will I change my support for them just because of these things, cause that is temporary.

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The Hallowed Turf In England

This week & the next are all about the Champions, Wimbledon or simply Wimbledon. It’s the most prestigious tennis tournament in the calendar, held at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club located in the London suburb of Wimbledon ever since 1877. For professional tennis players this is the Stanley Cup, FIFA World Cup or Superbowl put together. Winning a single title here ensures your name in the history books in more ways than one and also get you a lifetime membership at the club.

The singles trophies, pictures here on the left, are beautiful & amongst the top 5 most prestigious trophies to win, certainly the most prestigious for an individual sport. The men’s trophy is easily the most handsomest trophy of all. It’s just so well made. Each year the winners get a smaller scale replica of the trophies for theirs to keep.

The first time I came to know about Wimbledon was during the 1987 championships. I remember watching Pat Cash winning the final and climbing the stands to hug his wife & family, leave a lasting impression on my 11 year old mind. My favourite players were Stefan Edberg, Mats Wilander, Steffi Graf & Martina Navratilova. Ever since then watching the 2 week tournament was a yearly tradition for me till 1998. That year, I rediscovered football with a flaming passion and lost most of my interest in tennis as a sport. The last Wimbledon that I actually watched more than just bits of the final was in 2001, when veteran Goran Ivanisevic won his first and only Grand Slam title. I’ve watched bits of Roger Fedderer’s wins and maybe a set of Rafal Nadal win last year but that has been it.

I’ll probably never get into tennis as much as I used to but Wimbledon continues to always be magical for me. Maybe I’ll watch the finals this year.

My Favorite Sporting Event

When I was 6 years old the football World Cup took place in Spain, and Italy came out as victors. I was way too young to have a major impression on my mind but I was crazy about football as were most of my friends. Then 4 years later Mexico hosted the world’s best footballing nations in 1986 and it was fiesta of colourful images and celebration. I was a 10 year old football fan glued to some of the images that the showed on Kuwaiti television.

A local bubblegum company had also come up with the idea of creating a scrap book of the World Cup and featuring stickers of all the players in the tournament. When you bought their bubblegum you would get 5 of the stickers and you had to collect the entire lot, stick the players profile image in the respective countries pages and the first 10 people who submitted the book back got a prize. I remember me and my friends actively participating in the event although I didn’t get to finish the collection.

That was the beginning of my love affair with the world cup. Italia 1990 – I was back in India by then and school was just an obstacle in watching the games throughout the month of the tournament. I even had to do a school essay on the magic of the tournament. 1994 was a tough year for me but I still managed to watch most of the games telecast live from the US. And then came 1998 and France.

That was a big deal. I was studying at NIIT at the time and my classes started at 7am. The matches got over at 2:30 am – which meant sleep till 5:30am, get ready and leave for the institute by 6:30 am. The entire day would be spent in a daze and then evenings & nights were spent back in front of the tv. I even dreamed about football! 2002 was spent mostly watching games in my uncles house along with him. The matches were held in Asia – South Korea and Japan and hence easier time slots for us in India.

2006 was ok; I got to watch a lot of matches but nothing stands out for me at all. 2010 – well I barely watched a full match and work was the villain standing in front of me, baring me from enjoying the games. An plus my tv was on the fritz. I wasn’t even interested in watching many games either as I was going through a sea change in my life and wasn’t sure that football games held much meaning at that time.

I wonder how the next couple of World Cups will be?

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Delhi CW Games A Shamble

The Delhi Commonwealth Games preparation is fast becoming the biggest shame & joke for India. Nine days to go for the Commonwealth Games and in the face of international criticism after pictures of the dismal state of the Commonwealth Games Village were splashed world over, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday stepped in to clean up the Games mess. Pictures have been released of the filthy conditions of the housing for the athletes.

Most of us are familiar with the collapse of the overbridge on Tuesday had sparked off fears among the visiting international teams of the lack of safety. Lots of international athletes have pulled out of the Games in Delhi, citing the security & safety concerns as well as the pathetic conditions of the apartments where they are supposed to be put up. The concerns over infrastructure came to media attention in late September 2010 after media outlets began reporting on “filthy and unlivable conditions” at the games village and safety concerns after the collapse of a pedestrian bridge near the main stadium. The footbridge collapsed injuring 27 and seriously injuring five on 21 September 2010. On 22 September 2010, a stadium false ceiling partly collapsed into the competitors area of the weightlifting venue with no reported injuries.

It’s not cricket and therefore it seems that the money to make things glamarous is not spread across. Wake up India; this is reality. Can this nation actually host a proper international games that does not involve that dumb game of cricket?

The One & Only Sporting Event I’ve Been To

Despite the many years I’ve followed football, tennis and since 2000 ice hockey, I’ve never been able to attend a sporting event live at the venue with one exception when I was 14. I’ve attended the finals of a tennis tournament in Cochin, which mainly featured Indian players, way back in 1991. Nothing like the Chennai Open; much much smaller in nature.

So no international football matches (ha, I live in India) and NHL is out of the question. There are clay courts in the grounds of the Cochin Oil Refinery setup in Ambalamedu which is a bit far from where I live. I remember that in 1991 there was this tournament held on the clay courts and most of the top Indian talent were attending it. I spoke to an uncle and my cousin Raju and we though that it was something that we wanted to attend. So one Sunday in January 1991, the three of us took a drive from my grandma’s house to the courts in Ambalamedu to attend the men’s single final & the double’s final.

I remember that a young Leander Paes was facing an Italian expatriate player who lived & played in India for many years (I just can’t remember the guys’ name) and lost. They then played as a team in the doubles final and due to fatigue or illness, Leander and his partner had to forfeit the final. I managed to get an autograph from Leander and the Italian dude; it must be around here somewhere amongst my stuff from my childhood. That was a good experience for the 3 of us and we drove back home happily.

The World Cup Is Near

I’m excited about the upcoming football World Cup which is being hosted in an African country for the very first time. First of all, I refuse to call it soccer! People, it’s football and not soccer. American football is not even played with a ball…it looks like a big viagra pill in a different colour. Football is a game played with 22 people, 11 per team on the field, outta which one is a goalie and they kick a round ball. A ball. It’s round. Not the American football. Call that soccer if you want to. I refuse to call my favourite sport soccer. Football. Case finito!

Ok, so back to the World Cup. I’ve watched most of the games in every world cup from 1990 in Italy to the last one in Germany 4 years ago. Actually, I couldn’t watch that many games of the 2006 WC as work kept coming in the way as a hindrance. But my first real experience of the World Cup was the Mexico 1986 cup in which Deigo Marradona captured the hearts & admiration of  millions across the world (except for England ). This was such a colourful event which I as a 10 year old watched on tv back in Kuwait. Kuwaitis love football and being bo’rn there I imbibed the love of the people’s game and have followed this sport with similar passion. I remember the final when Argentina beat West Germany and how Maradona become a world icon. I got this book which was themed around the World Cup and you could get this stickers that featured the images of all the players from each country playing in Mexico. You had to complete the entire list  and send it in to the company that was behind this contest and they’d give you a prize if you had the whole lot.

This year I don”t think that I will be able to watch many games. The timing when the matches are being played will be mostly late night in India and I don’t want to stay watching the matches and then drag my sleepy ass to office the next day. During the 1998 World Cup (France) I was studying in NIIT – classes from 7 am till 12pm. The matches got over at 2am – I’d sleep for 3 hours, get up at 5 am and go to class at 7 am. I’d come back home for lunch and sleep till the late evening and get ready to watch the matches. That was fun, tiring but fun, at the age of  21-22. Not so much for a 33 year old! So it’s gonna be mostly online scores, watching highlights in the evening and maybe a few late night games on the weekend. If I am lucky.

Another Tiger Woods Connection!

You’ve got to admire Tiger Woods decision to come back to the PGA tour after a four month absence. I mean, after all the dirt that has been dished about, Tiger (has got Wood) can expect that from the first day on the grass he is going to be a target for hecklers.

I know he’s got a ton of fans but the casual golf fan would have turned against him by now. The first opportunity to find out how he plans to deal with it will come April 5, the Monday afternoon of Masters week, when he sits for his pretournament interview. And as I read, every week it seems that another bimbo reveals her affair with Tiger!

When did he ever find time to be the champion golfer that he is & stay with his wife and have two kids while humping all those women? The hookers, porn stars, night club cocktail waitresses – dude  must have an unending supply of Viagra! And now – it seems that he used to date LeAnne Rimes. But that was before his marriage.

Vancouver 2010 Olympics

I’ve never been a big time viewer / follower of the Olympics. I try to watch highlights and the medal tally and try and guess who the big winning nation will be.

Over the past few Olympics, interests have more directed towards the football & tennis departments and perhaps a look here and there. By the time of the 2002 Winter Olympics, I was hooked on hockey (the ice variant) would support Canada – since my fav players are from there & with India ofcourse being no where on the horizon in winter sports. This year, I got a glimpse of what seemed to be a spectacular opening ceremony and I wished I could have seen more since Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado and ofcourse Wayne Gretzky were featured. And a personal hero, Rick Hansen also came all the way to the end of the lighting of the Olypmic torch.

I hope to catch some of the live hockey action but I’m not getting ESPN at this time. So I may have to rely on the good ole trusty world wide web to watch some of them.

Twittering Banned At The US Open

Holy crap! I haven’t watched the US Open (or any tennis tournament coverage) in ages. Twitter seems to be in news everywhere and the Open is no exception. The U.S. Open, which gets set to start on Monday, has issued a warning to players and their entourages to be careful about what they post on the social networking site.

Signs are being posted in the players’ lounge, locker rooms and referee’s office at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with the header: “Important. Player Notice. Twitter Warning.” They also warn about using Twitter away from the court, saying sending “certain sensitive information concerning your match or other matches and/or players should be avoided. Depending on the information sent out this could be determined as the passing of ‘inside information.”‘

The messages define that as “information about the likely participation or likely performance of a player in an event or concerning the weather, court conditions, status, outcome or any other aspect of an event which is known by a Covered Person and is not information in the public domain.” The warnings say they apply to players, coaches, agents, family members and tournament staff.

The Most Beautiful & Classy Trophy In Sports

With the recent plaudits still coming in for last Sunday’s Wimbledon Men’s final and that incredibly long 5th set (it was longer than most Soap Opera series), the most important championship in tennis takes down memory lane. I remembered all those years ago, 22 to be exact when I sat in front of the tv screen and watch Pat Cash climb the stands to go and hug his family after he’d won the 1987 title.

clash of the titans dvd From that year onwards I was a tennis fan and Wimbledon fascinated me. The history, the traditions, the green grass, the legends, the glamour….but most importantly it was the trophy! Ladies & gentlemen, the trophy that they give to the men’s single winner at the All England Championships is hands down, the most beautiful & classy looking trophy ins sports that there is. Just look at it.

homo erectus aka national lampoon s stoned age online

I must say that it is best displayed in sunlight to showcase it in all it’s spendor and the gold contracts brilliants in the sunlight and the green grass. It was the trophy that I dreamt of winning and holding from the age of 11. It still holds a magical effect over me, although I don’t watch tennis anymore and haven’t since the last 8 or 9 years. It really is special.