I happened to be a proud recipient of a complimentary pass to the Kingfisher open Men’s singles final match conducted in Mumbai last Sunday. Now, I have always been a Tennis fan but never had the opportunity to watch a ‘live’ tennis match. Oliver Rochus v/s Richard Gasquet (I hope I got the spellings right), seemed a decent contest frankly. Not a Federer – Sampras exhibition match, but then I wasn’t charged SGD 200 either.
Once the match started, one could figure out that there were 2 camps within the spectators. Those who supported Rochus and those who were opposed to the ‘Rochus supporters’. Now the Rochus supporters were those perennial animal lovers whose love of the underdog can take them to any length. Show us Indians an underdog and we will show you our hero. The atmosphere was carnival like. The only thing missing was a Ferris wheel.
The Rochus supporters were misguided by the learned commentator that their hero was pronounced as Rock – us instead of the actual Roh-kews. So every time he won a point, there was a deafening chanting of “Rockus Rockus”. The Gasquet faction would take this as a personal slight and start their own chanting. Chak de Rock -us was another crowd favourite. Every point was cheered, so what if it were a double fault or an unforced error. The average time between 2 points was double the normal point as each party wanted to have the last word.
The poor players would look up a couple of times for the crowd to stop the chants. The chair umpire would say ‘thank you’ which would spur the spectators to greater heights in their chants. The off court events were much more attractive than the on court game, so I won’t waste my time describing the match.
It will never be known whether Oliver Rochus lost to a superior opponent or to the continued pillorying of his name by his supporters. But in the end it was the Tennis spectator who was the winner. Amen..
Not just anywhere, this was in Mumbai, at the CCI. The moot point is that its not only teams / players who need coaches. Our country needs training in the basic etiquettes of sport watching. A policeman walking across the sight screen is one of the common sights in Indian cricket. Clapping in the middle of a point is considered encouragement – be it Tennis, table tennis, Badminton.. You name it. We as as a nation are acting like the nouveau rich in the sport arena. We might have the money power to organise a tournament, run a full sport but maybe we should outsource the spectators.
I agree that we as a society suffer from this boorishness across all spectrum of life. Be it sport, be it public conduct. But to imbibe a sports culture, we need to be sporting. To be champions, we need to learn to act as one. Else we will end up seeing the Sreesanths of the world being idolised for their aggressiveness, not accepting defeats to a better side, clapping on an opponents double fault..
I have always been a die hard Indian fan and have complained at unfair treatment meted out to us by umpires/ referees / foreign media. But we have to be fair before asking for neutrality from others. Anyway, think that’s a separate topic..
P.S. One of the songs playing in the background that day was – ‘We will, we will Rock you‘.. Anyone for poetic injustice?
Posted by Rahul