Nation on the March

Nation on the March
Nation on the March

Apr 27, 2010

Cheating - thy name is Sports !!

We used to say: 
Be sporting or sportsman-like. 
It means “gentlemanly, generous, considerate, fair, just, honourable, decent. But that was rather long ago.

Now, is it still so? We will have more than one opinion!

Poor sportspersons! They also have to cheat.

We have read enough about this. Cheating wives, girlfriends, match-fixing, etc. The list can go on.

These days, India’s bad luck, there are more skeletons than cupboards. Rather the politicians and sports organizers are hiding in the cupboards and throwing the skeletons out! Some one wrote: “The Good, Bad & Lalit Modi” Only the time will tell who is who.

Some say our national pastime is cricket. Some in Eastern India say it is football. Elsewhere in the world, it is baseball, basketball, soccer, rugby, and hockey, whatever.

But when it comes to sports, mankind’s favorite pastime is lying, cheating, pulling pranks, and spreading hoaxes! Not counting sportspersons cheating their fiancé, wife and so on (and making their self-mockery public)

History is replete with instances, when some times a footballer overstates his injury or a Formula One race driver hits a wall with his car or a rugby player chews a blood capsule to pretend that he is injured.

Kirti Azad, former cricketer and presently MP said on a TV channel 3-4 days ago that while entire team can not bought, few players can always be. They will, in return, get out, drop a catch or will not take wicket!

  1. In a recent post, we read how Rosie Ruiz cheated in Boston Marathon, by joining it in the last mile! Cricket season has just been over and this is the time to take a glance about this favourite passion of the sportspersons – i.e. to cheat. Let us see some more.
  2. “Monster Bat” was used in a game of cricket in 1771 in England. The teams were Surrey Vs Hampshire (of today). The prize money was a mere fifty pound sterling (equivalent to 70,000 pounds in today’s terms).

It was to be a 2-day match and one player brought a bat so broad that it covered all the stumps. It was certainly not against the laws of the game as they stood then, but it was certainly against the spirit. The trick did not work and the opponent team won by one run!

But, within next two days, the influential Hampshire team declared “the breadth of the bat will be restricted to 4¼ inches” Three years later, the LBW law was devised, to bring some method in the madness to win name & fame and money.

  1. Money often speaks louder than one’s conscience. If it was a matter of 50 pounds in 1771 in the UK, it was a question of $100,000 in the US in 1919. One of its greatest baseball teams, Chicago White Sox – lost the World Series because its one player had ties with the underworld. Two gamblers, backed by one gangster bribed its eight players $100,000 to lose the match! 
The scandal came to the light very late in next season. All the players were banned for life from the game of baseball.

  1. In 1976 Olympics games, Onishchenko rigged the electronic scoring system in such a way that machine would score a point for him even when he has not touched his opponent in a fencing event!
  1. In 2000 Paralympic games (for the physically challenged), Spanish basketball team was declared the winner.  However, it was revealed that as many as ten of their players were not having the required ‘disabilities’ and they were forced to return their medals.
6. Tour de France is considered one of the most renowned cycling events in the world but it became notoriously well known for its scandals. A favourite contestant had to be dismissed from the race after he tested positive for transfusion of his own blood (preserved a few weeks before for this purpose), a practice not approved under the rules. The 2007 winner’s victory was called the greatest swindle in sporting history, because the winner Alberto Contador of Spain had used drugs!

  1. In 1993, Monica Seles, the tennis pro was stabbed by a German in the back so that the no.1 ranking is not snatched away from his compatriot Stefi Graff. And he did achieve his goal also. Today, Serena, Hingis, Kournikova and Seles  all have their personal bodyguards around them. ( We saw other day that even Lalit Modi has them – for beating the journalists).

  1. Who does not know Hanse Cronje, cricketing captain of S Africa.  In his confession for match-fixing, he indicated that Mohd. Azharuddin had introduced him to two bookies. The CBI report in this case reads that : “ it is clear that Azhar contributed substantially towards expanding bookies/players nexus in Indian cricket….he received large sums of money from the betting syndicates to fix matches…. He roped in other players also to fix matches….the underworld approached Azhar to fix matches for them..”

Azhar also admitted fixing three ODI matches. BCCI banned him in 2000 for life from the game of cricket. He claimed that he was targeted because he was from a minority community. This statement so much backfired that he was forced to give a public apology and withdraw his words.

On 19-2-2009, he joined Congress party and is now a MP from Muradabad, UP. Less said is better.

Others who have been banned for match fixing were Ajay Sharma ( for life) and Manoj Prabhakar and Ajay Jadeja ( for some time).

  1. Can the glamourous and thrilling Formula One grand prix lag behind in the matters of swindling and scheming?

The unworthy son of a three time world car racing champion, named Nelson Piquet Jr. did something weird and unbelievable in Singapore Grand Prix in 2008!

He was asked by the team owners ING Renault to help his other team member Alonso to win. For this,  ‘all’ that Piquet will have to do was to hit the wall when the race is in full swing. If he does, perhaps his contract could be extended. He was threatened 15 minutes before the qualifying finals that he can be replaced by another driver if not agreeable to the orders.
Pequin Jr. obediently hit the wall at turn 17 in lap 12-13, very close to the spectators watching the race. He risked his own life and the lives of the sports fans and the marshals also.

No body suspected him initially. His confession came eleven months later!

Coming to a close now in somewhat lighter vein, if all this has been a painful commentary of the state of affair of sports and games ( ever since they were developed centuries ago).

  1. Sports Illustrated (SI) is a world renowned sports magazine from US. It has a weekly circulation of 3 million copies and a readership of 23 million ! It is well-known for its stunning photography as well.

At least on two major occasions, it carried articles which fooled its readers.

In 2002, it ran a five page article, profiling Simonya Popova, a female tennis sensation from Uzbekistan who mad beautiful Anna Kournikova like the old aunt Billy Jean King. No such person existed because it was a fiction! Her image was computer generated and her name was chosen from a film SimOne, the theme of which was a computer generated actress who becomes a superstar.

Readers were shocked to learn later that it was a hoax, because the article carried the interviews of three real tennis pros, which gave it unintended credibility.  But the SI team said that they had ended the five page article with a sigh: ‘ if she only existed” ! But who reads a five page article till the closing line?

SI did something similar in April 1985 also. It wrote about an incredible baseball player being trained in Florida, named Sid Finch, who had a 165 mph fastball , almost 50% faster than the existing best speed! His name was shortened from Siddharth. He was raised in  an English orphanage. He was trained in yogic powers for mind-body mastery by some lamas in Tibet.

SI received more than 2,000 responses to this article, which went on to become one of their most famous stories ever.
SI admitted, after 15 days,  on 15th April that it was a hoax.

The sub-heading of the article was :

“ He’s a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style. Sidd’s deciding about yoga – and his future in baseball”

The first letter of each of these words, taken together spells 

H-a-p-p-y-A-p-r-i-l-F-o-o-l-s D-a-y”.

Apr 19, 2010

Interesting tweets from Paulo Coelho

I follow him as a tweeter myself (@deepak_taunk). 

He posted these in last 24 hrs.

  • 19/04 The simple things are also the most extraordinary, but only the wise can see themabout 1 hour ago via CoTweet
  • We burned so many forests, so “ashes fly back into the face of him who throws them” (African proverb) about 18 hours ago via web
  • Save the planet? Planet must be saying, "Save yourself idiots, I will be fine" about 21 hours ago via web
  • Let's delete the arrogant "save the planet" motto, and change to "educate the humans" about 23 hours ago via web
  • If 5 days ago I had a new book on how a volcano in Iceland paralizes Europe, ppl would say: "crazy non-sense rubbish!"about 24 hours ago via web

Apr 18, 2010

Rosie Ruiz (Fake), Jacquelin Gareau (Real), Cigarette addiction and 114 years of Boston Marathon: What a heady cocktail !

 In celebration of the great Boston Marathon 
, in its 114th year, being held tomorrow , 
Monday, 19th April  

Pheidippides died about  2,500 years, killed by too much exercise. To be precise, he ran from  Marathon to Athens to report a Greek military win. Exhausted, he collapsed and died, giving us not only the marathon but also the myth of the marathon runner.

It is also known as Marathon Monday in Boston, because, since 114 Years, the marathon race is run here!

And it is no ordinary marathon race. Read on :

  1. When the first (modern day) Olympic games were held in Athens in 1896 and marathon even was first time conducted, the manager of the Boston Athletics Association who was present there decided that in his home town, they will also start this event and thus, very next year, in 1897, Boston Marathon was born.
  2. Till 1920, it was the only marathon event in the world (outside Olympic games of course)
  3. The Boston Marathon is the oldest annual city marathon in the world
  4. In 1897 when only 18 runners entered the race. In tomorrow's  Boston Marathon about 25,000 people are expected to contend, cheered on by 500,000 spectators.
  5. The Boston Marathon ranks as one of the most prestigious running events in the world, because of the long history of the race, the challenging course and the fact that in order to qualify, every runner must have finished a certified marathon within a certain time frame determined by the age of the runner. 
The legendary course of the Boston Marathon has been the same throughout most of the history of the race. Interestingly,
    1. At one point during the marathon, the finishers are honoured with free food and massages  
    2. The last of the four hills is known as Heartbreak Hill. ( Why this name? The story says that in the 1936 race defending champion, John A. Kelley, caught up with race leader, Ellison ‘Tarzan' Brown, and gave him a consolatory pat on the shoulder as he passed him. Instead of consoling him, this odd gesture apparently gave Tarzan supernatural strength, and surprised Kelley win the race in front of Kelley. This ‘broke Kelley’s heart’!)

For various personal reasons, individuals are reaching Boston USA to participate in the 114th Marathon that will be run tomorrow, i.e. Monday, the 19th April.

No American has won it since 1983 so there many US  nationals eyeing the event to break this stigmatic record.

Many are struck on the other side of the Atlantic, due to the volcanic ashes fro Iceland, which is not allowing the air traffic from Europe to USA. Among those going to be there are past champions some past winners.

But, all eyes will be on marathon champion Jacqueline Gareau who won the (real) medal 30 years ago and returns to Boston once again in 2010 to celebrate the 30th anniversary of her victory and course record performance. Why the need for the "real" qualifier before every mention of Gareau's triumph? 

Because she was the victim of one of running's most infamous cheats: Rosie Ruiz.
Neither Gareau nor Boston (and the athletic world) has forgotten that bizarre and sensational drama that was enacted 39 years ago.

Gareau worked in a Canadian hospital. She had qualified by running the required qualifying marathon in Canada. It was 21st April, 1980. At Boston, she was not properly allowed to start the race from the front line but was asked to start from much behind (or else be driven out of the race). She silently accepted and lost precious seconds in the initial stage itself.
Undaunted. she went past several competitors and every one was applauding her that she is going to be the winner. She was quite thrilled at her performance.

But when she finally reached the finishing line, to her surprise there was no ribbon waiting for her to race through! And she was told that she came only second!
To her surprise, she saw that on the podium at the award distribution ceremony, some unknown participant was standing all smiles and receiving the medal.
Gareau had a hospital duty to attend the very next day . Exhausted fro the run and with a heavy heart, she returned to Canada  same evening.

The winner's  name was announced as ( Cuba born)  Rosie Ruiz from USA! Rosie claimed that she had participated in the New York marathon and got the required qualifying certificate for participating in Boston Marathon.
Interesting, she did not appear very tired, looked fresh, did not heavily sweat on body and underarms. All this was amazing.

Later on, it was found out that she did not qualify even at New York Marathon ( because part of the distance she had covered by the Metro Train with a NY Times journalist), joined the crowd later, pretended to be injured, went for first aid and the organizers issued her the much required qualifying certificate!
In Boston Marathon too, she was watching as a spectator, at a location just one last mile before the finishing line, smartly jumped the barricade and started marathon as though nothing had happened.
Ruiz took the medal home. For one week the organizers struggled for evidences about the fraud. Ruiz remained as official winner for those seven days!

New York marathon disqualified her first. Then Boston Marathon announced Jacqueline Gareau as the real winner. But Ruiz did not agree to return the medal she had wrongly claimed. A new medal was struck for Gareau!
It is 30 long years but even today Gareau, the Canadian Olympian and winners of several medals and trophies, is confronted with questions about her fake rival. She replies them politely and gracefully, saying no harsh words.

Interestingly, she had no formal training in athletics except some activities that were popular in her rural settings. Once in the urban life, she started smoking half a packet of cigarettes a day. Her father had died of cancer and she was determined to quit smoking and switched over to new physical activities and sports. Ultimately, the cigarettes became a matter of past and she was crowned with a medal, that made her more famous than many others who won the most prestigious marathon in the world in past 113 years!

Banned for life from Boston Marathon, Ruiz was arrested two years later in 1982 for stealing $60, 000 in cash & cheques from her employers and briefly jailed.

Even a hundred years later, Rosie Ruiz legend will continue to live, although her claim to the fake glory lasted only for seven days! 

Apr 15, 2010

Is That So? - A Useful Zen Approach to Life

A very inspiring and illuminating Zen  story from Internet:

Is That So?

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbours as one living a pure life. 

A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered that their unmarried daughter was with child. 

This made her parents very angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parents went to the master.

"Is that so?" was all he would say.

After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbors and everything else the little one needed.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth - that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fish market. 

The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back again.

Hakuin was willing. 

In yielding the child, all he said was: "Is that so?"