There are 3 important once in 4 year events. The Olympics, the Football World Cup and One day internationals (ODI) World Cup. Now sports is played throughout the year but everyone waits for these three events. While Test matches can never be replaced as the ultimate form of the game, ODI are taken as extremely important too and teams start preparing for the next World Cup as soon as the present world Cup is over. Who will be captain is tentatively thought of, who will be the players tried out and experimented with before the core of the team is decided. All these are serious decisions to be taken by major cricket playing countries.
Similarly, the same is true for Olympics and World Cup Football as well. Decisions are taken years in advance. For instance, Germany started preparing for 2014 world cup 12 years in advance. They selected 500 sports schools and put 10 young footballers and 1 coach in each of them. Thus they started with a pool of talented young school level players. The results were amazing. From this pool there were as many as 14 players in their World Cup Winning team 12 years later.
To take an example from Olympics, England identified major Olympic events such as cycling and swimming, rejuvenating itself as an Olympic superpower. From a going downhill sporting nation, it once again is taken very seriously in world sports. Incredible, isn’t it.
What about Fans. How important are these events for them. Say cricket. Since when are fans waiting for 2019 World Cup Cricket ? Is it an event one is waiting for ever since defending champions India crashed out to Australia erasing memories of Skipper Dhoni hitting that magnificent 6 at Wankhede stadium and India lifting the 2011 World Cup. Or is it even earlier, ever since many impressionable young Indians, newly introduced to the magic world of TV, saw Kapil Dev Lifting the world Cup on that memorable day. Probably the latter, for that glorious win was versus the mighty West Indies who were expected to win in ridiculously easy fashion.
Accordingly one can safely conclude that these events are eagerly and desperately looked forward to and no sooner than one edition of the event is over does one look forward to the next. It also means that while the waiting period is one of eagerness, the period of actual tournament when it happens is one which is actually life-changing, in more ways than one.
The statement above may sound preposterous to non sports aficionados. However it will appeal to all sports lovers since they too go through similar situations and emotions. For instance, during these sporting events, normal hours of sleep decrease since the matches are often at odd hours. Yet again, this may sound odd to non-sports lovers but one cannot bring oneself to waste time on mere nocturnal rest when one can watch the sprinting of an Usain Bolt or a bowling of a Dale Steyn.
Apart from sleep, the next serious casualty is conversation. One actually talks less to family members, friends and relatives during this period except for suddenly saying something like “brilliant ball” or “wonderful long jump”or “mind-blowing sprint”. Next, one has lots of arguments with friends and relations during this period on topics such as who is better, Bolt or Carl Lewis, who is the better bowler, Starc or Jimmy Anderson and so on. Arguments can be anywhere, in real life or on Facebook, whatsapp and via exasperated SMS/texts usually continuing until the wee hours of the night, almost until friendship breaking points, till suddenly sanity dawns on one of the “boxers” who hurriedly says good night. The next day , after a couple of hours sleep ( more than that one can’t afford during these events), sheepish realization dawns that most of the discussion was more in animation than for any other reason.
How else Can these Sporting events change lives. Yes, it can make one more statistically conscious and go in for more number crunching. One does tend to delve deep into memory and also google for interesting statistical details. In fact one cannot disregard statistics as it often bring us back to reality from emotions. At the same time the surfeit of statistics has made commentary very statistical based which has taken away the sheen from an important aspect of a sporting event, namely views and analysis. Hence definitely a balance has to be met but well, isn’t that true for almost anything.
Sports events can help utilise time better. To take my own personal example, I stay in Mumbai which is a busy metro involving long commuting hours between home to office. Such enthralling events makes the commute better as one can follow the current match going on in sports sites and applications. Even if no match is going on, one can read the analysis and newspaper reports of previous day matches and previews and forecasts of next day matches. One wonders in fact how much such events will contribute to the revenues of cell phone companies and in an aside that will be an interesting comparison in itself- To compare the sales/revenue of cell phone companies and internet service providers the month of the events and the previous and next months. Same for television companies and cable service providers.
The above are only illustrative examples of how sports events changes lives. There is no doubt that sports events are extremely important and affect decisions of not only individuals but even institutions and countries. For instance the Hon’ble Guwahati High Court ordered the Assam Government to provide cable TV connection to inmates of the Central Jail so that they can watch the cricket world cup 2015. As mentioned earlier, Germany and England took decisions of far reaching consequences and results. One can therefore conclusively state that the importance of sports cannot be overemphasized. Furthermore, There is a growing realization and belief that properly handled , Sporting events can enhance the economies of nations. In this context the 1984, 1992 and 2012 Olympic Games are good examples. The football world cup of 2014 also saw enhanced infrastructure by the host country Brazil and for 2016 Olympics too Brazil has already decided on 25 Billion USD of further infrastructure spending which it hopes will improve its economy. There are contrary examples too where Olymoics has led to financial gloom, best examples being Athensand Montreal. Therefore a major decision in-itself is whether it should bid to be a host country for mega events.
In view of the above , in my opinion, mega sporting events certainly changes the lives of fans and also affects the decision of nations. Do you agree ?