Back in the day, I used to be an avid follower of many sports – Cricket, Football, Lawn Tennis, Formula-1, WWE (then WWF – yes, I used to consider this as a sport too). Managing studies and following my passion for sports was a tough ask, but I guess I managed it well. Adding more sports was also a possibility. So now you know how much I prioritized one over the other. Cricket happens throughout the year. Almost same is the case with Football, with European leagues running for 9 out of 12 months and a World / Continental event happening roughly once every 2 years. There are 4 Grand Slam events in a year for Lawn Tennis each running for 2 weeks and then certain ATP masters tournaments featuring the best players at the end of the season. Formula-1 has around 18-20 races running for 18-20 weekends out of a possible 52 weeks in a year.
And then we have to study round the year for our academic growth and career development. Phew!
Those were the days. Now things have changed. A lot. Now my selection of games have reduced to a select few. For instance, Cricket matches that actually makes sense and has a history / rivalry attached to it. India-Pakistan, if and when it happens; Ashes, not watching it live, but keeping a track of the updates; The semi-finals and finals of Grand Slams in Lawn Tennis; Formula-1, only if the conditions are fluctuating like bright sunny skies followed by moderate rains (rare instance) and WWE when the superstars of the “attitude era” returns for a night. Bane of corporate life, maybe.
Lawn Tennis and Formula-1 are on the cusp of being eliminated from my list and my paucity of time has nothing to do with it. Here’s why I feel like ceasing to be a fan of these games –
Lawn Tennis: I used to be a “die-hard” fan of Andre Agassi. And by “die-hard”, I truly mean “die-hard”. And by the way, I still am. Although Lawn Tennis has become more and more competitive every year, I still feel the Sampras-Agassi era was the best. Add players like Goran Ivanisevic, Greg Rusedski, Michael Chang, Petr Korda and others to this equation and you have an exciting mix of top talents fighting it out for the crown(s). For me, Agassi truly was one of the world’s best and his matches with Sampras were truly a delight to watch. His comeback from 150+ ranking at one point to reach the pinnacle is the stuff of legends. Today, there are world class talents in today’s Djokovic, Federer, Nadal, Murray, Wawrinka. However, I am finding it difficult to “replace” Agassi or to even find a new “Agassi” in the current crop. The problem lies with me more than the current state of the sport. Although I keep up with the updates, I wait till the semis of a big event to even switch on my television. My bad.
Formula-1: If it was Andre Agassi in Tennis, it’s Kimi Raikkonen in Formula-1. I started watching Formula-1 only because I realized there was someone who was competing tooth-n-nail with Michael Schumacher in racing. Although Schumacher was winning, Raikkonen’s never-say-die attitude towards the race grabbed my attention. But this is not about Raikkonen. Formula-1 is a technology dependent sport. A lot of upgrades that happen are technologically inclined. The game also went through various changes, one of which was the no-refuelling rule. In my opinion, this rule (along with many others in the recent past) has spoiled the competitive atmosphere. For the past few seasons, the only competition we experience is between the two drivers of the best team. Rest all is academic! I don’t think this is good for the game. There’s lots of money involved and maybe, just maybe, the top echelons who run this game aren’t ready to take preventive action to correct the wrongs. Many of the fans, including me, need a compelling reason to watch the next race. If we know it’s again going to be a 1-2 to the Mercedes F1 team with a Ferrari or a Williams coming third, then there’s no element of excitement left in the sport.
I still don't think I will stop watching these sports altogether. My current adjustment of watching only key matches / races will continue to work. Till the time I sort out my problems with Lawn Tennis and Formula-1 sorts out its own problems, I am left with nothing but prioritizing Cricket and Football in my spare time. No regrets though.