By YUSRA KHAN
DEHRADUN, 15 Nov: Can the estimation of a sport’s popularity be limited to one’s own country or is it best to look at the picture globally? Is disproportionate sports funding leading to the domination of cricket at the cost of other sports in our country? Does cinema have an effect on the image of sportspersons? Do India’s regional differences result in the distinctive inclinations to different sporting activities? To answer these questions, a Hindi High School Debate was organised by Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangthan at the Valley of Words Festival. The International Literature and Arts Festival, held in Dehradun, invited an esteemed panel of judges to select the winners – consisting of Om Nishchal, Mamta Kiran and Sarita Rawat. The debate started off with a strong emphasis on the historical context of sports culture in India. The exclusivity of cricket was primarily discussed, taking into account the parameters of social and economic importance. The debate witnessed a definite clash between the popularity of cricket and other sports. Devangini, from Kendriya Vidyalyaya OLF also laid the premise of the debate upon the statistics of participation and value of personality-driven sports in a cricket frenzied country. The primary theme around which the debate revolved was the imperativeness of media and its influence upon the growth of cricket. The portrayal of the sport in cinema was given primacy as the students from both the sides of the debate agreed upon its definite impact upon the development of narratives. Rebuttals came in from the opposing side through their examples of alternative narratives built upon by movies like Mary Kom and Dangal that cater to a more diversified interest in sports. As the debate continued, the colonial legacy, impact of media, exclusivity of sports, etc., were the major pointers presented by the participants. The aspect of wealthy corporates being key players in the cacophony of cricket economics was touched upon, as well as the importance of other leagues like PKL and ISL for Kabaddi and Football. Alka from Kendra Vidyalaya, Birpur, talked about how all sports had their identities and one could not be pitted against another. Cricket’s popularity is in certain pockets; this being true across the world and at home in India. The football fervour in the streets of Kerala and the Kabaddi craze in Haryana as well as the viewership stats when compared to FIFA versus IPL matches, were all direct contradictions of the blanket popularity of one sport over all others. The proposition side engaged the audience by persuasive arguments of the unparalleled love the Indian population has for cricket, where young boys and girls become well versed with cricket vocabulary from a very young age. The public and political support translates to overflow of money and, to an extent, allows cricket to enjoy a monopoly over media perceptions. The students of Kendriya Vidyalaya excelled in oratory skills, and were confident of their stances, unwavering in their approach to the conflict between the two cases. The winners speaking for the motion were Devangini (first position), Abhilash (second), Lakshita (third) and the leading speakers awarded in the opposition were Devansh (first), Divya (second) and Alka (third). The debate fulfilled the argumentative nature of the event and also contributed to the larger discussion on competitive sporting within countries, in a constructive manner.