Just Do It, African Style

Posted on July 22, 2010

By Priyanka Pani:

If there is one thing I learnt from the summer of ’10, it is how to throw a party. The Africans may have thrown us the biggest, the grandest, the most-awaited extravaganza for the first time but even the veterans would think twice about gaining an advantage over their show. I am personally no fan of the South Americans (save for the saintly face and feet, Kaka) so the prospect of them doubling over trying to out-do Mandela’s happy armies fills me with much glee.

The Africans do it in style, loud, exuberant and uber-colorful. The best thing about this party — anyone and everyone was invited. All you needed to do to gain your ticket to happiness was to exhibit zealot- like behavior whenever your team played, loving, encouraging, admonishing, cursing and worshipping them, all at the same time. Of course, people with a weak heart were better off at home, catching up on some of Roger’s whooshing backhands or Rafa’s irretrievable slices (and chronic underwear problem).

This is the best part – this summer was complete sporting manna. A sports fan, nay fanatic, lives for this bonanza every four years. To have the luxury of surfing through the sports channels, taking your pick between the World Cup, Wimbledon, cricket, F1 and whatnot, is a momentous and joyous occasion in the history of Indian television. Forget consoling the mother for feeling inferior to an idiot box, this time I waged war with my beloved grandparents for the first time.

My grandpa and I had a television set to ourselves. I so hoped to catch the quarterfinal between USA and …or so I thought. Turns out Federer can make you forget how much your grandchild’s happiness means to you. I managed to catch football during the few and far-between commercial breaks, God bless them. Especially when a goal was scored, my displeasure made me discover this hitherto unseen side of me that produced grunts and searing looks I had never have thought me capable of, that too with Grandpa at the receiving end. In short, sporting manna does come with its pros and cons.

Coming back to the African gala, I shall pray that WC visits Africa again, there is plenty of drama, tears, and scheming to keep even my Grandma enthralled, who is a saas-bahu soap opera addict. For that, I will have to send up a couple more prayers that El Diego does not heed Pele (yes, the one who wakes up from his slumber every four years) and keeps entertaining us. Winking Ronnies, aspiring hand-of-clods, near-blind and not-so-kind referees, and of course, my favorites — the crazy fans — what more does one need to reaffirm the fact that this is one eventful party where you get more than your penny’s worth..?

It will be four long years of waiting, but it will be worth it. The WC would lose its flavor were it to become as commonplace as the EPL and other championships. In the meanwhile, I still have my perennial favourites, Roddick and Djokovic, to root for, nowadays usually for a losing cause though. F1 is no longer Schumacher’s monopoly and hence is eminently more watchable New faces, same cars… sport is ephemeral. Superstars happen overnight, only to fade away from public memory just as quickly.

So get out there and scream your lungs out for your favorite team/player and watch how it toys with your emotions. It is fascinating. The lows will abound, but the highs, they take you sky-high. As K’naan very aptly croons, “Just like a Wavin’ Flag…”

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