Massie amplifies a crucial point that I was trying to make. When I wrote, “What do you do with people who kill cricketers,” I didn’t mean to sound obtuse or silly. Obviously, civilians have been killed before, and by doing so, terrorists proved just how heartless they can be. Cricketers aren’t more exalted than the average civilian; an innocent’s death is an innocent’s death. But Massie puts it in perspective:
That’s not because an attack on cricket is more serious or any more murderous than one on any other innocent target, but because sport is something in which millions of people invest so much energy, emotion and, yes love, that an attack on, in this instance, cricket seems to be an attack on something that we share and hold dear in ways that extend beyond a simple, shared humanity or sympathy for the victims of, for want of a better word, an “ordinary” terrorist atrocity.
That’s the point: cricket, such a leisurely pastime — we just watched the Sri Lankans accumulate over 600 runs over two days! — hugely contrasts with the jidahi worldview of violence and anarchy. When we say, “it’s just not cricket,” we refer to behavior outside the realms of decency and fair play. This is what just happened, symbolically and literally, and this is why it’s so much more shocking.