Not for the Fainthearted
By Maxwell Pereira

Pater was a rare combination of academics and sport. Much as he is still remembered by students for his musical rendition of Sanskrit shlokas during language classes, he is also remembered for his ability to spot sporting talent. He was the college physical director as well as the head o the languages department. As a little boy, I remember his pride when one of his protege's was 'cap'ped for the Indian Test cricket team — and how later he was heartbroken when the protege returned to the pavilion scoring a duck, having been bowled out on the very first ball he faced.

My own cricketing hopes were dashed to the ground in my early teens when the swinging bat of a player got me squarely in the jaw while keeping wickets. I never played cricket again, but went on to excel instead in hockey, football and other sports and played at the school, college and university levels.

That having been said, I suppose I'd be hiding the truth if I did not admit to being infected periodically with the frenzy and passion that grips one and all in our country during the cricket season. Without being overly ebullient or excessively effervescent over it, suffice it to say I am patriotic enough to want my country to win. And though I am not particularly over the moon when we do win, but am definitely scathing and critical when our boys lose. Also, being a bit superstitious in these matters like Narayana Murthy of Infosys, who feels India invariably loses when he watches a match, I try and avoid an overdose of TV viewing.

Going back to my pater's heartbroken state when adversity struck his protege on the cricket field, I cannot but help sound a word of caution to old and infirm among us and those with a weak heart on the possible adverse consequences of excessive excitement over these issues. Consider recent reports in the British Medical Journal. There was a 25 per cent increase in heart attacks in Britain when England lost to Argentina in a penalty shootout in the 1998 soccer World Cup, and 14 people died due to strokes and heart-attacks in Netherlands the day the Dutch football team was knocked out of reckoning by France in 1996. I suppose it is advisable for those in the vulnerable categories mentioned, not to let their hearts flutter excessively during the exciting and dying moments of a match.


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