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Sport in the time of social media


We stay in instances when information ripples first on Twitter, barks at us by means of tv earlier than piping down and discovering validation by means of print. Sport at massive and cricket particularly isn’t proof against this development and as occasions get distilled into hashtags, it’s time for some frenetic phrases and countless hypothesis.

There was an period although when reflexive reportage wasn’t the drill. Decades in the past, cricketers would meet up with the travelling media, maybe over a drink in the night. The quantity of correspondents was few and insights can be shared. The odd Leg-Before-Wicket dismissal was hotly debated. And off-the-record conversations remained simply that.

Those have been pastoral instances when freshly lower grass on the outfield, some dragonflies whispering in the air and the thud of a ball in opposition to a bit of willow had a way of timelessness. Cricketers lived their sporting goals, writers chronicled them and all appeared advantageous. Utopia, nonetheless, was sure to crack as soon as the 24-hour information cycle rode on the twin pivots of digital avenues and tv channels.

The want for content material at the pace of gentle meant that ample filters weren’t at play and tales have been manufactured. Once, throughout a busy restricted overs sequence between India and Australia, a tv reporter requested Ricky Ponting whether or not the schedule was tight. The Aussie skipper answered in the affirmative. Next up was M.S. Dhoni and the identical correspondent instructed the Indian captain: “Mahibhai, Ponting just complained about the schedule, how do you see this?” Dhoni provided some platitudes about worldwide sport and the way gamers have to regulate. Once the press convention concluded, the channel flashed the information: ‘MS snubs Ponting!’

The inevitable end result was that the belief between gamers and scribes was ruined. This collateral harm perpetuated itself in other ways over the years. And we’re at some extent in which cricketers, like different sporting icons, would moderately discuss on to the viewers by means of their social media handles. The scope for a nuanced query or a vital clarification has been misplaced. Instead, press conferences have banalities being spouted equivalent to “control the controllables”.

Announcements, be it retirements or captaincy resignations, are sprung on shocked writers. Dhoni retired from worldwide cricket by means of a cryptic Instagram publish at evening and newsrooms lapsed into apoplexy. Did he do this? Did he actually imply that? Oh hell, sure he did!

However, issues have been pleasantly completely different in the previous. Rahul Dravid, identified equally for his resolute batting and well-known reticence, shocked many on a heat March evening in Bengaluru. It was the summer season of 2012 and residents have been busy ranting about site visitors and the alleged warmth in an in any other case salubrious metropolis.

The cellphone rang. ‘Private Number’ flashed. It may solely be ‘The Wall’ at the different finish. A beverage was spilled, the cellphone grabbed, a fast hey muttered and a well-known voice spoke: “Hey Vijay, Rahul here, good time to talk?” And as a number of yeahs have been mentioned, he continued: “Listen I’m doing a press conference at the Chinnaswamy Stadium this Friday, thought I will give you a head’s up. Let this stay between us. I told a few others too that I’m announcing my retirement that day. But nothing in print for now. Thanks.”

Being given two days’ discover for a big announcement that might set off pathos and respect in the cricketing world was an excessive amount of to abdomen. Plus the secret needed to be held tight whereas the thoughts considered doable tributes and recollections flashed that have been particular to this fabulous batter. India’s main cricket writers have been sure by the Code of Omerta. We knew ‘Jammy’, as Dravid is understood in the interior circle, was leaving however the information needed to keep below the radar until he made it official.

Those have been completely different days. Now, we now have one eye on the subject and the different on Twitter and Instagram. You by no means know when one other textual content will break the Internet.

vijayakumar.kc@thehindu.co.in



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