Sports and Politics
When a game stops being a game
By Kazim and Orin
The idea of sports comes from the idea of champions, from a desire to be the best among many. Even in ancient Greece, often champions decided the fate of battles. The best man of one army was pitted against the other and the winner of the bout would win the battle, saving lives of countless soldiers. Eventually that practice evolved and was implemented during peaceful times in the form of Olympics. In essence, it allowed humans to compete against each other, between groups, without bloodshed, and managed to establish one group's physical mastery - in however roundabout fashion - over the other.
From Club football, to World Series baseball, all the way down to our inter-school or inter-colony matches, sports become a matter of identity, a matter of representatives. As Shaer says, “In reality sports is a way of channelling political and national issues. It has always been like that, from the 1972 Munich Olympics to the 1986 Football World Cup (Argentina and England, Falkland's War) to the ice hockey matches between the US and the Soviet Union.” This is why India-Pakistan matches generate so much tension, why the New Zealand prime minister said it was, “appropriate that the Australian team were wearing yellow” after the infamous underarm incident.
As Bangladeshis, people often say we have very little to be proud of, other than our independence and cricket. But we have plenty to be proud of. Compare our economy during the Pakistan era and afterwards. Check our statistics on infant and maternal mortality, education rates, natural disaster response, food production, export figures, population control rates. Yes, there's room for improvement; there are plenty of other problems that need to be solved. But to say that we have failed to solve anything is untrue.
Yet, cricket holds a special place in our hearts. We are an emotional people and cricket is a very good outlet, not to mention the fact that it did a lot to gain us some positive image abroad. But how far exactly are we going with our emotions?
Sports is about having fun. Mostly. As exemplified here
When we reached the final, Facebook came alive with various memes and statuses fluently cursing the Indian and Pakistani players. Some people even went to the India match with Stop Border Killings posters, which was admirable as an attempt to raise awareness. But then there were some statuses focused on “revenge”. Really? You are counting a cricketing victory as reparation against the killing of your people? Same thing with Pakistan. Do you really think winning matches against them will ever cancel out what they did to us in 1971? You are insulting our martyrs and insulting the game of cricket.
It was certainly a momentous occasion and we answered a lot of critics, temporarily. As Prithvi Shams says, “India and Pakistan have a patronising attitude towards us and we should show them their place once in a while, discreetly. Like it or not, sports can not be separated from politics and nationalism. Not for nothing do countries have their own "national" teams.” Geoff Boycott has plenty to say against Bangladesh, but our reactions weren't as hostile when we beat England.
The point is not that we should be hostile. The point is that we shouldn't be. Throwing stones at the West Indies bus did not wipe the ignominy of the 58 all out from our cricketing history, but getting them all out for 61 near the end of the same year was a good answer. It was a cricketing issue and we answered it with cricket. David Hookes gave a formula for winning the Test match in one day against Bangladesh. We answered by taking the match to the fourth day. But we cannot hope to answer the BSF with cricket.
Zeeshan says, “Somehow we Bangladeshis in general have trouble doing anything in moderation.” The stories of abuse that some women received while coming out of the cricket stadium after the win robbed much of the joy from victory. We have to learn from our better cricketers. We have to grow up and play maturely. Not like a bunch of doddering idiots who cannot control themselves.
Does that mean we should be cold and emotionless? No. We have to pick our battles. Applying for the deduction of five runs by the BCB is one of those things we could've done without. If such action could be taken, it should've been done right then, during the match. Not now. It's beneath us, beneath Bangladesh who have risen so high.
When Mushfiq weeps like a child, that's Bangladesh. When Shakib - with tears in his eyes - consoles him, that's Bangladesh. We are emotional, we are big-hearted, we are hospitable, smiling people. That's our attitude. And like true tigers, we should answer with roars on the field.
And, of course, Amra korbo joy ekdin.
PS: A friend of mine suggested that Bangladesh's continued run of form and ability to chase is a result of BPL. I am willing to grant him the point. Though what happens during Test matches and to our consistency, remains to be seen.
MUSICon - Keeping the Beats Alive
By Munawar Mobin
Last Friday, the 23rd of March, the Bench was booked for “MUSICon - Keeping the Beats Alive' by 7teen Events. Facebook said that it would start at 2:30 but as events on Facebook goes, this one started out an hour late.
This event could be written off as a gaming tourney with a little concert thrown in there, but that would not do it justice as it was so much more. The whole of 'the Bench' was cleared out and three rooms were cleared specifically for games and their respective consoles. They had games such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero in one room, with Dance Dance Revolution and Dance Central on the Kinect in another, ending with a third room for karaoke. Each ticket came with free coupons for three of the three available games to try; otherwise, extra coupons had to be bought. Moreover, each game was set under the spotlight as main event at specific times of the show.
The show had been divided into three segments according to timing. “The Jimi Hendrix Experience” included Rock Band and Guitar Hero were under the limelight with tons of game rockers itching to show their skills on the plastic USB instruments. Then there was “the Groove Stage”, dancing games DDR and Dance Central were the focus. Easily the best phase of the tournament, it had its hilarious moments. The final chapter was titled “Karaoke bar”. Other than a few horrible renditions of Bangla songs, this phase ended well too with brilliant performances from local bands and at the very end, a fire show by Naur.
Bands Overtone, the Manager, Silverlight, Project 1/22, Defy all went on stage and as an interesting twist to the whole event were told to take on a song in Rock Band right after their on-stage performance.
Project 1/22 were brilliant in some areas while gray in others when covering Authrohin's Oshomapto and Green Day's Holiday. They also covered their rendition of the infamous Why this Kolaveri Di which was well done on guitars. With the absence of a drummer, they included a beat boxer, which saved their performance. Vocalist Ritu Raj informed us that it was not one of their best days but the audience response was good enough.
The other band worth mentioning is Silverlight, who pulled off some amazing covers. They played Zombie by the Cranberries, the staple choice of bands with female vocals, and then won over the crowd with an amazing cover of Adele's Rolling in the Deep. It was an awesome performance of the song, and the vocal really showed off her talent. In the end, Nemesis showed up and they finished everything in style. Nothing too unusual.
When asked how such an idea was brought up, the organisers from 7teen Events said that they had been organizing gaming tournaments for a long time, but it was mostly just FIFA. But not everyone is a FIFA gamer. So as entertainment, they also kept a section of dancing games. They ended up being big hits so they decided to host MUSICon with the full ensemble.
On a whole, according to the organisers, the event could be considered a success. There was good food, good music, good people, great atmosphere and funky tricks with fire. All in all, good fun.