March 24, 2007

Cricket, Schmicket

MY FELLOW AMERICANS, Shashi Tharoor thinks we have a problem. Simply put, we don't care much for cricket, a state of affairs which horrifies the United Nations' outgoing Undersecretary-General for Communications. As a result, Undersecretary Tharoor did what any UN chief flack would do -- he sent an op-ed to The New York Times, in which he condemned this state of affairs. Also, as he is an outgoing undersecretary, the man made plenty of nasty asides at the United States in his essay.

While Undersecretary Tharoor's unfortunate remarks about America have been condemned elsewhere, The Rant would take the high road in this instance.

As Loyal Rant Readers know, I am a great supporter of American football, the greatest sport in all of human history. Like Undersecretary Tharoor with cricket, I have tried to spread this football gospel to those who don't yet realize the beauty and majesty of the sport. Sometimes, this falls on deaf ears.

As amazing as it may seem to Americans, many foreigners want to stick with their own sports, like soccer. But the proper response is simply to allow them time to understand American football's sublime spirit, as well as those of its close variants, Canadian and arena football. They'll discover it eventually, because American football has so many great human qualities which transcend politics and nationality. When they do, they will become as passionate and devoted fans as any Midwesterner. We're already achieving some small measure of success in Germany and I am confident the rest of the world will eventually come 'round.

Sadly, Undersecretary Tharoor has given up on his mission and instead reverted to angrily bashing the nation which has hosted him for so many years. He writes:

In any event, nothing about cricket seems suited to the American national character: its rich complexity, the infinite possibilities that could occur with each delivery of the ball, the dozen different ways of getting out, are all patterned for a society of endless forms and varieties, not of a homogenized McWorld. They are rather like Indian classical music, in which the basic laws are laid down but the performer then improvises gloriously, unshackled by anything so mundane as a written score.

Cricket is better suited to a country like India, where a majority of the population still consults astrologers and believes in the capricious influence of the planets — so they can well appreciate a sport in which, even more than in baseball, an ill-timed cloudburst, a badly prepared pitch, a lost toss of the coin at the start of a match or the sun in the eyes of a fielder can transform the outcome of a game. Even the possibility that five tense, hotly contested, occasionally meandering days of cricketing could still end in a draw seems derived from ancient Indian philosophy, which accepts profoundly that in life the journey is as important as the destination. Not exactly the American Dream.

So here’s the message, America: don’t pay any attention to us, and we won’t pay any to you. If you wonder, over the coming weeks, why your Indian co-worker is stealing distracted glances at his computer screen every few minutes or why the South African in the next cubicle is taking frequent and furtive bathroom breaks during the working day, don’t even try to understand. You probably wouldn’t get it. You may as well learn to accept that there are some things too special for the rest of us to want to waste them on you.


We love you too.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at March 24, 2007 07:03 AM | TrackBack
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