Long weekend and home quarantine took me to DD Sports channel that is known for broadcasting internal games and events. So between yesterday and today, I discovered some new names – tennis players Arjun Kadhe and Vijay Sundar Prashanth, Table Tennis players Harmeet Desai and Sathiyan etc. I learnt that Beighton cup has been won 7 times by Indian Oil Corporation, while the last year finalist PNB won once in 2015. I was surprised to know that so many rules have changed since I last followed these games. In Table Tennis, a set consists of 11 points, with each player having two services at a time, a big change from 21 points set and 5 services to each player that I knew of. Also, I haven’t seen anything beyond the best of 5 sets, this being the first time that I saw best of 7 final game between Harmeet and Sathiyan. And look at hockey – there’s no bully, no pushes, but only hit ins, long corner is not taken from the corner but from 25 yards line. And instead of 2 halves of 30 minutes each, there are 4 quarters of 15 minutes each. And finally, Indian tennis players have come of age- their services are as strong as international players and the difference seems to have been substantially bridged. Above all, with no sporting events having been hosted in the current pandemic affected year, with the exception of IPL that was recently held in UAE, most of the telecasts are of the games played last year and earlier!
There was a time when I knew by heart the dates of major tournaments – DCM and Durand Cup football, Ranji and Duleep trophy cricket matches, Beighton Cup Hockey and so many tennis, badminton and table tennis tournaments. I would know the position of the teams and players, names of champions as also the records of the teams and players. So much has changed in world of internal sporting scene – new players, new champions, new tournaments and most importantly- new rules ! We just got lost in cricket and more cricket in the form of IPL, forgetting everything else! And probably more so of late in the new forms of entertainment such as satellite channels and Netflix, Amazon Prime et al.
Without sounding preachy, I will now do my best to try and remain in touch with internal sporting events, players, their records and achievements and their proximity to international standards , with the same zeal with which I follow cricket, grand slam tennis tournaments and international soccer. How much more learning is there to be imbibed from Covid Pandemic, I sometimes wonder?