Indian television

Channel surfing: Thank you, Olympics, for showing Indians a world beyond cricket

The Rio Games have given even diehard couch potatoes a kick up the pants.

Nothing has been able to top the Olympics on television these past few weeks, especially given our sports warriors PV Sindhu, Dipa Karmakar and Sakshi Malik. Respect, admiration and glory to them, in spades.

Reams have been written about their struggles and huge wins, and loads have been said the infrastructure challenges, lack of financial support, and a broad understanding of the various nuances of their sports. Karmakar, who can take pride in acquainting Indians with the Produnova vault, cannot be blamed for being slightly exasperated with the line of questioning by her fellow Indian journalists. As Reuters reports:

Just how oblivious Indians are about gymnastics was clear on Sunday when a throng of reporters bombarded Karmakar with questions such as: “Couldn’t you have done the landing better?” “Is this your highest mark?” “Does anyone else attempt this vault?” “Someone even asked me, ‘Why didn’t you do the Produnova twice? If you did it twice, you would have got the medal!’” Karmakar, who got a career-best of 15.266 for the vault, said rolling her eyes. “That’s when I realised how ignorant some people still are about gymnastics. I had to explain to them that the rules state I have to perform two completely different vaults, one going forward and one going backwards.”

No points for sensitivity there – but perhaps no surprise, given that gymnastics has never been a big draw in the country. There is a possibility that this attitude will change, at least in some small way, thanks to Karmakar and her incredible journey. Let us not be under the illusion that one Karmakar means that India can turn into an engine like the former USSR, but that’s not to say the country can’t make a start.

The positive side is that there is interest and there does seem to be a collective competitive spirit. For all the talk about cricket being the national obsession, it does feel like Indians now care not just about gymnastics, but also about badminton, tennis, wrestling, even weight-lifting. (Thank you, Olympics!)

While athletes aren’t quite able to cash in yet, there is money flowing in at some level, judging by the proliferation of India-based televised sporting events. It’s a far cry from the monopoly Test, ODI and then T20 enjoyed just a few years ago.

There’s the Premier Futsal League with some major players on board. They were estimated to have spent some Rs 45 crore on promotion and marketing this year. The Managing Director of Premier Futsal, Dinesh Raj, reportedly estimated that team promoters would shell out Rs 8 to 10 crores in this inaugural year.
Then there’s the Pro Kabaddi League, already in its fourth season. As of last year, Star India, which had invested more than Rs 300 crore in the league, was hoping that they would turn a profit by 2018. By all accounts, they seem to have captured a healthy viewership, especially in different language editions.

And then you have Hockey India League, as well as the Indian Super League soccer tournament. Will this all lead to the development of a wider sporting culture and infrastructure? That is certainly the hope – and the ISL for one claimed to ensure commitment to the development of a “grassroots” soccer programme.

Maybe we will get there, after all. If nothing else, this Olympics was a bit of a kick up the pants, even for diehard couch potatoes. All it takes is an India angle for us to collectively lean forward to cheer on, and then think about how much more the country needs.

If this Olympics gave us any catchphrase, I would hope it is “Fight like a girl,” with thanks to veteran sports journalist Sharda Ugra.

Amrita Tripathi is a freelance journalist and author. She can be reached @amritat.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Children's Day is not for children alone

It’s also a time for adults to revisit their childhood.

Most adults look at childhood wistfully, as a time when the biggest worry was a scraped knee, every adult was a source of chocolate and every fight lasted only till the next playtime. Since time immemorial, children seem to have nailed the art of being joyful, and adults can learn a thing or two about stress-free living from them. Now it’s that time of the year again when children are celebrated for...simply being children, and let it serve as a timely reminder for adults to board that imaginary time machine and revisit their childhood. If you’re unable to unbuckle yourself from your adult seat, here is some inspiration.

Start small, by doodling at the back page of your to-do diary as a throwback to that ancient school tradition. If you’re more confident, you could even start your own comic strip featuring people in your lives. You can caricaturise them or attribute them animal personalities for the sake of humour. Stuck in a boring meeting? Draw your boss with mouse ears or your coffee with radioactive powers. Just make sure you give your colleagues aliases.

Pull a prank, those not resulting in revenue losses of course. Prank calls, creeping up behind someone…pull them out from your memory and watch as everyone has a good laugh. Dress up a little quirky for work. It’s time you tried those colourful ties, or tastefully mismatched socks. Dress as your favourite cartoon characters someday – it’s as easy as choosing a ponytail-style, drawing a scar on your forehead or converting a bath towel into a cape. Even dinner can be full of childish fun. No, you don’t have to eat spinach if you don’t like it. Use the available cutlery and bust out your favourite tunes. Spoons and forks are good enough for any beat and for the rest, count on your voice to belt out any pitch. Better yet, stream the classic cartoons of your childhood instead of binge watching drama or news; they seem even funnier as an adult. If you prefer reading before bedtime, do a reread of your favourite childhood book(s). You’ll be surprised by their timeless wisdom.

A regular day has scope for childhood indulgences in every nook and cranny. While walking down a lane, challenge your friend to a non-stop game of hopscotch till the end of the tiled footpath. If you’re of a petite frame, insist on a ride in the trolley as you about picking items in the supermarket. Challenge your fellow gym goers and trainers to a hula hoop routine, and beat ‘em to it!

Children have an incredible ability to be completely immersed in the moment during play, and acting like one benefits adults too. Just count the moments of precious laughter you will have added to your day in the process. So, take time to indulge yourself and celebrate life with child-like abandon, as the video below shows.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of SBI Life and not by the Scroll editorial team.