Over time I have become less and less religious as I felt religions had stopped serving their key purpose – that is to bring meaningful sense of community.
That they had more divided rather than united people. They brought out fanatism more than it did benevolence. The religions started giving more dictums rather than igniting the will to do better for self and good for others.
Then on April 2, I started seeing brewing of a phenomena in India that I had not seen in awhile anywhere. Yes, it was the day that India was in the cricket World Cup Finals!
For years many commentators have called it a religion based on the fervor it generated but I never bought into that. Neither did I buy into the whole hype of cricket and the world cup and felt that people were simply making too much of a simple game. To me it was just a game which was sort of interesting but nothing much more beyond that.
But today I am talking about cricket as the new religion! So what changed my heart? It all began when we played the match with Australia. Here are the things I noticed about the India team and the fans that converted me.
Focus on the game (work)
In the games I saw, I saw tremendous focus on the game by the Indian Team and other teams too. They were not worried about the personal accolades or success, they were focused on doing their best! One good example of this was Dhoni who when he reached half century in the final he barely celebrated or acknowledged as he understood that India was not out of the woods yet and his job was not done. No early celebration or false personal glory.
Teamwork and Camaraderie
To extend the point about focus on game, I was amazed by the teamwork; thats what really made the difference. The extra effort put in by fielders to prop the bowlers, the supporting roles played by one batsman when the team needed it. The public declarations that “they were doing this for Sachin”. Amazing, never before have I seen such selfless and focused team.
Respect for others
A few years ago we saw crazy amount disrespect and sledging in cricket – this was specially true with Australia and games they had won. It seems like there was a tremendously high standard held by the Indian team when it came to respect for competitor. Ofcourse they celebrated their wins with exaltations but in all their interactions there was respect for competitors and their abilities before and after all games. This is what we were to be taught in school and parents but seems like that lesson was lost until now in and around us. Now being respectful is not just right but also fashionable.
Inclusive Celebration and Fun
At the end of it all when it came to celebration, it did not matter whether you were in a Mercedes or on foot, everyone was hi-fiving each other. I did not see any religion on the road, neither did I see any financial status. Heck, I even saw the differences of age, marital status, class, gender, and even nationality disappear. I wish any religion could do that.
With all the above points being made, I now feel that Cricket has an ability to unite people in a positive way. What yesterday appeared as craziness to win, today is a willingness to make an effort, and tomorrow will be eagerness to grow as individuals in a symbiotic manner with others and society.