Three great pieces of sports writing that I came across in the last couple of days do what I think in the media lingo is called the “human interest” angle. But there are millions of such pieces all over the world. But what I liked about these pieces is the exploration of how sport and society become one – beyond the commerce and factory-like environments of professional sport.

Following Green Bay Packers’ 13th NFL title win, this piece by Dave Anderson in NYT profiles how a small town in the Midwest (with a population that might well be lower than some of the suburbs of NYC or LA)  is also the most successful NFL besides being one of the oldest.

To appreciate the Packers’ still being in the N.F.L. nearly a century after their birth, it’s as if Louisville and Hartford were still in baseball’s National League, as they were in its original 1876 season; as if Providence were still in the N.B.A., as it was in the original 1946-47 season, when the N.B.A. was called the Basketball Association of America.

Also in NYT, there is an exploration as to who will be the captain of Pakistan in the ODI World Cup. While calling it a rotating door, this piece ends with a quote of Younis Khan which I think is probably is the answer to anything that you want to know about Pakistani cricket.

In 2009, Khan, speaking in his moment of triumph at Lord’s in London after winning the World Twenty20 trophy, said Pakistan’s cricket problems were symptomatic of issues way beyond the game. As he asked rhetorically, “How can cricket be stable in Pakistan, when nothing else is ?”

The last piece is about Jhonattan Vegas, the 26 year old Venezuelan golfer who became the first person from his country to win a tournament in the PGA tour. It profiles the rise of the young man even as Hugo Chavez closed down golf courses to convert them into public service infrastructure. Well, now he seems to have a change of heart.

Although Vegas may not have made a convert of Chávez, he certainly had him bobbing and weaving. After Vegas won the Hope Classic, Chávez, who has not, it is believed, put buildings on any of the courses, proclaimed that he was not “an enemy of golf, or any other sport.” He said he would call to congratulate Vegas. “He beat all of the gringos,” he said.

In the meantime, we learn that BCCI is not alone in the cricket (mis)management business. Cricket Australia is getting a hiding from all parts of country – the 6-1 drubbing of the Poms in the ODI was significant for two things : Micheal Clarke got some runs and Crazy Kreja got a ticket. CA had a post Ashes review and were tinkering with the Sheffield Shield format besides considering the longevity of coach Nielson and selector Hilditch’s jobs. The Australian calls it the long road back.

While most members of CA’s lopsided and antiquated 14-man board are not keen to sack themselves for a commission, their reviewers were instrumental in making the AFL this country’s sporting super power. Crawford produced the report which was responsible for the then VFL commission, which morphed into the all-conquering AFL, while Carter is the president of Geelong and a former AFL commissioner.

Adelaide Now believes that it is the moment of truth.

Some, including the Australian Cricketers’ Association, believe the first move by the board, chaired by Jack Clarke, should be to sack itself.

The 14 CA directors arguably remain beholden to parochial interests of an unwieldy state-based voting system devised at the turn of the century.

Peter Roebuck is amused at the new Big Bash formats – calls it a quiet revolution.

— Self-Plug alert—

If you dig sports and are in Mumbai on 5th March, drop in at the BQC-IITB Quizzes. There are three quizzes and one of them is a sports quiz conducted by me along with Atul Mathew and Anand Sivashankar.




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