A few days back one of my very reasonable friends alleged that the interest any of the desi's in the US may exhibit in core American games/sports, like American football for instance, is very artificial..
This argument started when we were following a thrilling game between Washington RedSkins, the DC home team with the Philadelphia Eagles on New Year day. The game was important because a win on this game would give the RedSkins an entry into the playoffs. After a wonderful game (where RedSkins won 31-20), I was discussing the game with Eswar, when this very reasonable friend stepped in and asserted - the whole thing sounded very artificial and superficial to him.
Coming to think about this, I really do not blame him for that conclusion. I find many of what we desis do very artificial indeed:
- I find it artificial when we desis try to mimic the (horribly irritating) rap musicians - wearing a monkey cap, partially holding the hands upto the chest and yelling Yo wazzup! in a basal high pitch;..
- I find it artificial when we desis pickup an 'American' slang, adulterating the decent English that we can speak as pathetic as one could, thereby making it unintelligible for anybody to understand; ...
- I find it artificial when we desis listen to the traffic, check the weather and print out maps before we drive to the superstore on the next block; ...
So if all the above is considered artificial, then what is wrong in my friend's observation that cheering up for an all American team in an all American game to be artificial ?
That I cannot agree. I, for one, love sports/games blindly. Be it whatever. I can sit & watch any sport of any sort without getting bored for hours - Tennis, Soccer, Golf, Swimming, Cycling, Formula One, Pool etc etc., - I just love sports. And I know that there are quite a few of my friends - this one for sure, who do the same. We share a passion for sports. Sports is universal, just like how music is - borderless, boundaryless.
Just because Iam from India doesnt mean that I have to sit & cheer only cricket - the game in our DNA, or hockey - the national sport or kabaddi - where we easily win medals .. I can equally appreciate Tennis and maybe cheer more when Leander or Sania get to the matchpoint, appreciate Racing and maybe cheer more when Narain completes a race, appreciate Golf and maybe cheer more when Vijay Singh hits a birdie, appreciate Chess and maybe cheer more when Anand does a check mate. Being in India has never hampered us to follow any of these 'imported' sports.. And coming to America has just widened our scope to look & follow more sports - basketball, baseball, football and the like.
I agree that (I used to think) American football is nothing but a game of rough bullies weighing 250+ lbs each falling over each other just like that - a bigger version of relatively leaner Sumo players or WWF. I used to laugh at the irony that this game is called Football, when they rarely use the foot and the ball isnt even round. But I have come to admire, follow through and enjoy the sport over time - and just like how some need exams to increase seriousness in a reading, just like how some need a speedometer to pump adrenaline while driving crazily on a freeway, I just need to cheer & support a team/player to take a more active interest in sports (just a variation of Maslow's theory X, I guess;)). And so I support a team, conveniently the RedSkins - home team from Washington, DC where I live.
When one does something not just for conversation starters or to look cool, when one watches a game waking up at crazy times like 3:20 AM because a favorite team plays, when one travels a few thousand miles staying in rubbish motels just to follow a 90 minute race - the interest sure may be an acquired one, but definitely is not artificial.
PS: On a totally different note, DC folks - do visit Misha's coffee at Old Town. They serve excellent coffee and the place is cozy. You can catch up on reading, play scrabbles/chess, discuss politics, blog(the internet is weak & unusable though) or the best - sip coffee and engage in advanced ornithology !