Just read New York Times columnist David Brooks’ piece on humility and culture, and I wanted to extrapolate some thoughts on cricket. The relevant excerpt from the piece below:
Today, immodesty is as ubiquitous as advertising, and for the same reasons. To scoop up just a few examples of self-indulgent expression from the past few days, there is Joe Wilson using the House floor as his own private “Crossfire”; there is Kanye West grabbing the microphone from Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards to give us his opinion that the wrong person won; there is Michael Jordan’s egomaniacal and self-indulgent Hall of Fame speech. Baseball and football games are now so routinely interrupted by self-celebration, you don’t even notice it anymore.
It made me wonder about the celebrations we often see in cricket. Watching old footage of classic games, you didn’t always see bowlers jump up and down in glee when they dismissed a batsman, and you don’t always see batsmen losing their minds, exuberantly hugging their partners, after reaching a landmark.
But is there anything wrong with that shift? Does it matter, say, that Ravi Bopara signaled upon his century to have his name etched on the Lord’s honor board? There’s certainly more an element of showing off these days, which I think largely reflects a new generation that grew up watching cricket on television rather than hearing it on All-India radio.
And even though I prefer not to have Serena Williams-like outbursts in cricket, I won’t lie that I immensely enjoyed the whole spectacle as I watched it unfold live on television. Who doesn’t enjoy Harbhajan Singh needlessly drumming up controversies, or dramatic interruptions of play?
I’m afraid I don’t have a conclusion here, because I’m still undecided: on the one hand, sport will always involve partisans and passion, but on the other, the actual playing may be cheapened when audiences prefer shouts and pointing to bat on ball. There’s also a risk that we’ll elevate individuals above the team, as we indulge human narcissism rather than respect fickle fortune.