Opinions

Ebbing away of sporting spirit is the reflection of a universal moral crisis

It's time, we asked ourselves, where have we erred and what happened to us so drastically as to make us dishonest, unscrupulous and unethical.

'Ebbing away of the cricketing or sporting spirit is the reflection of a universal moral crisis,' wrote the legendary cricket scribe Ray Robinson of Australia in an article in 1981 when Trevor Chappell of Australia bowled underarm to win a match against New Zealand at MCG. This was the most disgraceful incident in the history of the 'gentleman's game'. Years have elapsed and that crisis has deepened and become truly universal. The latest ball-tampering episode by Oz players Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft has validated as well as vindicated what Robinson observed years ago. 

'Sports reflect the best of human spirit and cricket reflects this in the most telling manner,' opined the great West Indian cricket scribe C L R James. While the whole world is condemning this dishonest incident, we conveniently forget that more or less we all have this streak of knavery embedded and inveterate in us. Just because they were caught, they are being condemned because this is the age of snooping social media and hypersensitivity. 

'Sports and human lives are intertwined', opined Sir Garfield Sobers, arguably the greatest cricketer ever to have graced the greens. The moral question is: Is winning everything? Should one resort to unfair means to win at any cost? This is extended to life as well. Should we forfeit and shelve all human values and principles to succeed in life? Is there no place for moral rectitude and ethical correctness? 

It's the voice of conscience that stops us from indulging in things and practices that are morally unjust and unfair. When South-Bombay born Douglas Jardine of England unleashed Herald Larwood and Bill Vose like a pack of wild dogs on the indomitable run-machine Donald Bradman and his teammates in the notorious 1932 Bodyline series, Stan McCabe of Australia asked Jardine after the series, 'Mate, what have you finally achieved by defeating us 4-1?' Mortally embarrassed Jardine had no answer.

This is the most classic moral question ever asked, 'What have you achieved by winning (dishonestly)' ? What do we all achieve in life by stooping to ways unbecoming of being a human?' Who remembers and values this kind of success built and based on dishonesty? These are the questions all morally sane and upright people are asking and pondering at the moment. 

Why's a loss or defeat so much important to all of us that we can do anything to avert it? Why can't we accept defeat gracefully and always think of winning by hook or crook? Smith, Warner and Bancroft's heads may be on the chopping block. But aren't we all guilty of the same questionable behaviour? We're all closet offenders. 

It's time, we asked ourselves, where have we erred and what happened to us so drastically as to make us dishonest, unscrupulous and unethical. It's easy to pass summary verdicts on these Oz players. But look inward and introspect. We're all tarred with the same brush and only a revolutionary change at the collective level can cure us all of this malice. Till then, no one has the right to hurl stones at these unfortunate cricketers. Only those who've never sinned can throw a stone but who's above reproach? None of us.

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