Pakistan’s great coaching complexities
Pakistan vs West Indies: A statistical look
Leadership roles in the game of cricket
Lessons from the World Cup
Benefits of enhancing a sporting culture!
The cry of the wild?
By Dr Nauman Niaz
"I don’t think there is any doubt unfortunately," an ex-captain said about Pakistan’s timid performance, at least in the second half of World Cup semifinal against India at Mohali. Pakistan cricket has been contaminated; there is more than the circumstantial evidence of their unreliability, incompetence and ineptness. There wasn’t any popular anger against Shahid Afridi or the Pakistan team since the government went outside the line to actually dampen the hype that had been created.
Why did they actually try popularising Pakistan cricketers was a hidden mystery itself? It was a shameless performance at Mohali, it wasn’t about Pakistan qualifying for the semifinals, they in reality didn’t actually warrant a place there but once they were in and India seemingly petrified, it needed a stupendously pedestrian method to lose.
Shahid Afridi should have played Shoaib Akhtar in place of Abdul Razzaq who had been utterly disgusting and a glaring liability; apart from the team selection, it was disillusioning to see Pakistan dropping six catches, a stumping missed, a catch each dropped by Younis Khan and Misbah-Ul-Haq, seemingly at loggerheads with Afridi.
Sachin Tendulkar who must have executed his worst-half century out of the 94 he had mustered in One-day Internationals was let off at least four times; a UDRS decision also went against Pakistan, the technology being monitored by India itself; horrifically Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez both in the runs played outrageous strokes; Kamran could be forgiven because he as usual didn’t make an ideal pivot and didn’t really followed the line, the bottom hand rotating as he sliced one to backward point, the area where he gets majority of his runs but Hafeez having timed two perfect back-foot square-drives plus a delectable punch through the covers didn’t really need to play a ‘dil-scoop’ and that against Munaf Patel, a ball pitched outside the off-stump.
Asad Shafiq, the batsman who naturally goes back and across tried cutting a length ball which was bewildering. Younis Khan stood his ground on the leg-stump and tried cover-driving Yuvraj Singh’s left arm leg-spin with a fielder at short extra-cover in place; Abdur Razzak simply missed a straighter one, playing inside the line and Shahid Afridi, having been enticed with a ‘wide’ flat ball from Harbajhan Singh previously, went for a wild heave; with 82 runs to be scored in 62 deliveries he didn’t commission the ‘power-play’?
Ironically, Umar Akmal who had hit couple of lusty sixes, changed his gloves feeling sweaty, exchanged a word or two with the substitute and being familiar to the fact that Harbajhan Singh was bowling ‘around the wickets’, it wasn’t cleaver to face mid-off instead of the usual straight head or slightly shifted to mid-on played a ‘nothing shot’, haplessly stranded on his crease; Misbah-Ul-Haq exhausted everyone’s patience other than his own and with nine balls to spare started hitting freely; if he could time the ball why didn’t he requisition aggression slightly earlier when Afridi was in or even when the Pakistan captain had departed?
The educated are incensed and the popular anger has grown against both the Pakistan Cricket Board and Shahid Afridi as the enormous dimensions of the defeat have become clear. There were few uneducated or the contrivers who tried justifying Shahid Afridi as someone warranting Pakistan’s captaincy. The technocrats tried denouncing Afridi’s misdemeanours almost throughout the World Cup. His captaincy was embarrassment rather it was a crying shame.
Instead of playing tame, the management should have looked into possibilities of Shahid Afridi’s continuation as captain carried a high risk of failure because of the velocity at which the incompetent decisions had spewed, it could soon lead to Imran Khan, the ex-Pakistan captain ending up in a tight corner; he had been flaunting his erudite cricketing observations repetitively backing Afridi to be named captain for all the three formats including Tests and the Twenty20.
After being publically contradicted that the Pakistan team wasn’t humiliated rather they had given their top-shots in spite of the controversy ridden build-up to the World Cup, the PCB continued to lead the ill-stricken cricket with government oversight, such as the appointment of Shahid Afridi as captain whilst Misbah-Ul-Haq was evidently strategically smarter and also a better cricketer, or at least a man who could fill his team with inspiration (his pedestrian batting in the semifinal was contrary to his flair and impeccability).
Everyone was ‘frustrated’, contrary to the perception they should have been ‘angry and frustrated’, with unconfirmed reports of Prime Ministerial diplomacy playing its role in Pakistan’s loss at Mohali; I bet the propaganda was diligently dampened by the media and surprisingly government’s line was toed, not so common with President Asif Ali Zardari in power; the private sector channels and most of the newspapers had been sultry and intimidating pouring against the government. However, the government or the PCB weren’t eager to plug the damn hole. But ‘tough talk’ against the Pakistan Cricket Board didn’t lead to any appreciable policy change.
Ijaz Butt continued; he seems irreplaceable. Even largely symbolic gestures from the President House in Islamabad were simply dismissed by the realists, as before the World Cup 2011 it was being intimated that Butt’s days as Chairman of the PCB were numbered; the counting didn’t cease as ‘status quo’ was preferred.
While the failures to stop Pakistan cricket’s nosedive in spite of their elevation to the semifinals of the World Cup 2011 didn’t create a political crises for the Zardari administration, its main concern was that any move to challenge Butt-led PCB could raise the broader question of political estrangement at least of Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, President’s trusted Federal Minister for Defence as a whole.
President Zardari’s decision to leave Ijaz Butt in charge of the Pakistan Cricket was entirely predictable. This was the same government that had seen enormous crises, economic and geo-political and the PCB was just too trivial to be given a thought, at least on the face of it; it seemed Butt suited the Presidency, that at least I couldn’t figure out; if you could you would have just been doing it.
Pakistan were given befitting response even by Punjab’s provincial government as Rs0.5 million were announced for each player. It delineated that either the result was preconceived or ‘motivated’ or people running Pakistan didn’t actually know how to patronise cricket and produce champions; it needed ‘deregulation’ and not ‘acceptance’; ending at the fourth tier meant everything to a prostrated nation of 180 million people.
They should have taken an exmple form the Sri Lanka where, on ‘moral’ grounds, captain Kumar Sangakkara, vice-captain Mahela Jayawardne, Chairman of Selectors Arvinda de Silva, selectors Amal Silva, Ranjith Fernando, and Shabbir Asghar Ali resigned simply because they were familiar with nation and character-building!
It was simply a question of moral worth. Regrettably, in Pakistan the Zardari administration, the Punjab Government, along with their choicest media and political establishment, unconditionally defended the principle that Pakistan weren’t likely to qualify for the semifinals but they made it through untainted team-effort and that they should have been appreciated; that’s how mediocrity had crept in!
Shahid Afridi has again been named as captain of the Pakistan ODI and T20 team for the tour to the West Indies. I acknowledge, it will always be possessed by someone everywhere because in any place, there exist a link ‘competition’. I also believe whether it was in sports or politics, a simple playground, or even the wild life, it was naturally there. I believed that it had it been in our nature to compete, so losing wouldn’t have been bad.
I think that Butt was required to quit as soon as possible, and Afridi should subsist, for it would just expose the newer generation to mediocrity; which, in fact, isn’t required!
By Nabeel Hashmi
Pakistan’s cricket usually gives a complex look when it comes to handling controversies mainly due to indifferences amongst players or the clashes of ego of some former players of the country. In a recent debate for the need of a batting coach, the egos got the better of the two Pakistani living legends and the war of words among them blew a small case out of proportion.
Javed Miandad, the Director General (DG) of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) was offered to take the role of a batting coach of the much-fragile Pakistan team. But a certain clash of egos between Miandad and head coach Waqar Younis forced him to turn down an opportunity which would have ultimately proved fruitful for the country.
Among the present crop of Pakistan batsmen, only Mohammad Yousuf is the one who has an impeccable technique whereas rest have some serious flaws.
The absence of Yousuf from the present setup has left Pakistan more vulnerable and the calls for a batting coach are growing louder after Pakistan’s failure to chase a modest 260 against arch-rivals India in the World Cup semifinal.
It is the bad luck of the young players in the team that they do not have someone like Yousuf to guide them around just like he was guided by the likes of Inzamam-ul-Haq or Saeed Anwar.
Players learn by watching their seniors and luckily Pakistan has always had great players who did their bit by nurturing the upcoming players and helped them to come out on top in difficult conditions.
The likes of Javed Miandad and Imran Khan helped polish the skills of Inzamam, Ramiz Raja, Aamir Sohail, Moin Khan, Saeed Anwar, Ijaz Ahmed, Salim Malik and Wasim Akram.
But one cannot blame the circumstances or luck for the failure of our batsmen infront of quality bowling attacks.
There is a serious question that rises has our national and regional academies have failed in improving the standard of players that come-up from the grass-roots level?
Most of the batsmen in the present squad have attended National Cricket Academy (NCA) and regional academies but yet they have not been able to improve on their weaknesses except Asad Shafiq, who looks a class act.
Millions have been spent over the past couple of years to develop academies for the betterment of players and largely Pakistan; so that the national team gets some good players.
But yet the grass roots level seems to be the root cause. So who is at fault?
Is it players who do not learn what has been taught to them?
The major share of blame goes into the players’ account as most of them do not learn much from the improvement exercises taught to them by highly-qualified coaches!
At most, the coaches can work individually with the players and tell them to adapt certain things and cut down on some movements and shots. But most of the players think that they are oversmart and people who are teaching them are fools.
In addition, some players who take things a little bit seriously in the camp continue to do what has been taught until they are under the supervision but once they go back their leave or forget what was taught to them.
Former Test wicketkeeper batsman Azam Khan, who is one of the most highly-qualified coaches of Pakistan said that the players do not follow the guidelines properly.
"The participants largely don’t take things seriously," he said.
"They need to understand that whatever has been taught to them is for their own betterment and the results will come good after some time."
Khan, who has a huge experience of first-class cricket, feels that associations should arrange the training camps at least a month before the beginning of the domestic season.
"The Associations should arrange camps a month before the Quaid-e-Azam Trophy so that the coaches get time to work on certain players because just after the conclusion of the first-class season, sixty percent of the players leave to play in foreign leagues," he added.
"We can only work in the off-season, as asking players to change their technique during the season can be disastrous."
Is it coaches who have failed to deliver?
The coaches who have played good cricket at international level face problems in mentoring players as they do not understand their psyche.
It is essential that a coach forces just some minor changes for the improvement of the athlete and does not end up messing the originality of a player.
The big players need to understand that before plying their trade in coaching they should at least learn some basics of it and then enter the arena to help others. The likes of Sir Vivian Richards and Javed Miandad cannot make other players to play like them because they were God-gifted.
Meanwhile, there are faults on the part of coaches as well because it has been witnessed that they are sometimes biased when it comes to looking after all players in a conditioning camp.
They target four to five players only to sincerely work with them, whereas, the rest of the players are left without any proper dedicated guidance.
"Most of the coaches at national or regional level are biased as they only work with people they like and neglect others," one of international players said.
"They are very clever because players who are not in their liking are told to adapt certain things, which ultimately result in their ouster from the U19, ‘A’ and national team’s reckoning."
The players, who are selected for NCA are always possibly the best upcoming players of the country but due to improper attention by the coaches. the end product is not entirely satisfying.
The biased dealing results in a huge difference among players who are of a similar calibre.
If both the players and coaches take their work sincerely on grass roots level, major flaws can eradicated from the players at a young age.
It will only help in minimising the workload for national coach of the team as he will only be required to solve minor issues and the calls for specific coaches will die out.
And as far as the batting coach is concerned, it is not necessary that a great player can be a great coach. If there are issues of egos among former greats, then the PCB can opt for the highly-qualified likes of Ali Zia, Azam Khan or Jalaluddin who all have learned the coaching trade from Australia and England. They are the ones who have learned the science and giving them an opportunity to work with the players can do wonders and who knows among them we might find a John Buchanan of Pakistan.
By Khurram Mahmood
The Pakistan cricket team, starting their tour to the West Indies, is in the process of regrouping to recover its lost pride. Pakistan’s performance in the ICC World Cup last month has not only surprised their admirers but critics as well. The team which was supposed to go down tamely, turned the tables on its opponents in the league matches and quarter-final against West Indies before losing the semifinal to arch-rivals India.
The Windies have failed to cope with the retirement of their star players over recent years. Their bowling has been a cause for concern while the upcoming youngsters have failed miserably in their bid to establish themselves in the side.
Without the genuine pace of Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif’s ability to make the ball move, the Pakistan pace attack looks very ordinary. There is little doubt that Umar Gul and Rao Iftikhar are talented fast bolwers but they don’t have enough experience against the strong West Indies line-up.
In the One-day International series, Pakistan’s main worry would be their pace department. While Akhtar has retired, Gul refused to go with the team due to personal reasons. Now only Wahab Riaz has the only fast bowler who has represented Pakistan in ODIs prior to the series. Tanvir Ahmed, Junaid Khan and Aizaz Cheema seriously lack in experience.
But Pakistan’s heavyweight spin department consisting of skipper Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Abdul Rehman and Muhammad Hafeez could compensate for their fast bowling weaknesses.
As far as the batting department is concerned, its look pretty balanced with a combination of senior and talented junior players. The openers’ problem is not new for Pakistan.
Selectors have once again shown their confidence on veteran left-handed opener Taufeeq Umar, who last played an ODI for Pakistan in February 2005 against Australia in Sydney; scoring just three runs.
Taufeeq made his ODI debut in 2001 at Sharjah agains Sri Lanka in which he scored only 10 runs. In the preceding decade, he played just 19 One-day Internationals; scoring 447 runs at an average of 24.83. Taufeeq is generally known as a Test opener for his slow batting at his ODI strike rate is 57.48.
How the management selected an opener who hasn’t played an ODI for the last five years is baffling!
Wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal has been axed and ‘young’ Muhammad Salman has been inducted. In his 103 first-class matches Salman has 301 dismissals behind the stumps while he has scored 3,596 runs with the help of four centuries and 20 fifties.
Abdul Razzaq’s below-par performance in the World Cup has meant that the talented Hammad Azam has replaced the veteran allrounder. Hammad played a vital role in Pakistan’s last U19 World Cup campaign and was also selected for the Twenty20 World Cup in the West indies last year. But he came back without playing a single match.
From 1975 to the recent World Cup quarter-final, Pakistan and West Indies have met 115 times in One-day Internationals, Pakistan have won 49 matches while the West Indies remain successful on 64 occasions while two matches have ended as a tie.
There are very few players in world cricket who can handle pressure. If a player, especially a youngster is under the pressure of giving a performance, he can never play his natural game. And it is up to the captain and the coach to back the youngsters so that the best can come out of them!
By Aamir Bilal
India are World champions for a second time in their history. Pakistan were beaten by the eventual champions in the semifinals and leaving all conspiracty theories aside, the Greenshirts lost to a better side that was mentally stronger since the Indians had hired the services of a professional mental trainer. They fielded better and above all, the team leadership took the responsibility to lead from the front.
One of the greatest things about cricket is that it provides a role for everyone, no matter how tall or short, fat or thin. There is nothing more fascinating than watching a strapping fast bowler being defied by a diminutive batsman who can cancel out the physical disparity by the application of correct cricketing skills. Conversely, you may see a powerful batsman being tied up in knots by a clever spin bowler as it was in the case of Misbah-ul-Haq. The game’s appeal rests on a balance between bat and ball; if ever one of the two takes precedence, the character of the game is lost until that balance is restored.
It must always be remembered that cricket is a team game and if that team is to be successful, all the parts have to function as a unit. If a team drops five crucial catches of a premier batsman -- that too of Sachin Tendulkar’s calibre -- and still hopes to win the match than there is something drastically wrong in the mindset and preparation of the team. When individual ambitions become more important than the team ethic or should factions develop within the side, there is little chance of a team forming a winning mentality.
Historically, the captain has always been the team leader, both on and off the field. However, over the past 20 years, the trend in international and domestic cricket has been to appoint more coaches. Unlike most other team sports in which the coach has overall responsibility for team performance and the captain is more of a figurehead, the roles are different in cricket. The captain plays a stronger leadership role in match tactics and player performance, whereas the head coach manages the team preparation and match analysis.
Generally, team captains are expected to model the team values and have a match plan and style of play.
During a match they need to be able to make considered and good decisions and be positive and enthusiastic. Captains should work closely with coaches, encourage input from the players, provide them with feedback about their performances and, critically yet constructively, evaluate overall team performance.
Shahid Afridi who was entrusted with the leadership role of Pakistan Cricket team at the eleventh hour did a fairly good job during the World Cup. Though few of his decisions can be put under the microscope, but given the benefit of depleted resources, match-fixing acquisitions and hostile Indian conditions, he captain can be let off the hook for tactical failures.
Greg Chappell was a captain whose philosophy was to lead the game rather than follow it. According to Chappell the best way to win games is to take wickets. This requires having the best bowling combinations in action and setting fields which not only suit each bowler’s style but challenge the batters who are at the crease. When it comes to making runs, it is important to have a balanced batting order enabling youth and experience, left- and right-handers, stroke players and ‘grafters’ at the crease at any one time.
Though Pakistan was without the services of its strike bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif while Shoaib Akhtar looked like a spent force, the Pakistan bowling attack was the most lethal and balanced. Unfortunately the bowlers were let down by the fielders and the captain persisted with Umar Gul, hoping against hopes that Gul will rise to the occasion.
Besides the captain, the coach is an extremely important member of the thinktank. Although cricket experts in our part of world still underestimate the importance of a coach, with the emerging significance of head coaches, it is vital that the players and all involved in the development and performance of the team have a clear perspective of their roles. This is particularly, the case with the captain, who is the on-field leader of the team.
Rod Marsh, who has been the head coach at both the Australian and English Cricket Academies, attributes the growth in significance of the role of the coach to the increase in the amount the players are required to play and train.
Richard Done, the high performance manager at the International Cricket Council, agrees that the coach has to plan the programme, think creatively, set goals and regularly review the process and the results.
In modern-day cricket, a democratic captain may be more open to implementing any new ideas suggested by the coach. On the other hand, an autocratic one may require the coach to act as more of a calming influence among the playing group.
However, John Buchanan, Australia’s national coach from 1999 to 2007, insists that neither the captain nor the coach should operate in isolation while Daryl Foster believes that the coach needs to have a working knowledge of all areas of player development that have a critical impact on the success of the team.
Rod Marsh has different concerns about the present situation and use of coaches in modern day Cricket, which I fully endorse. According to Marsh, players are no longer required to think for themselves.
Coaches are being drawn away from the basics of the game and have become over-reliant on technology and theoretical concepts. They should understand that the answer to any problem with technique will always be found in the basics of that technique.
Communication is a prerequisite for being a good coach. Players need to be able to understand what a coach is talking about’.
But at the same time, they also need to develop a good understanding of the scientific foundations of cricket. Strong and effective leaders in terms of coaches and captains are an important component of team success.
Coaches also learn a lot from watching and listening to other coaches, not only within cricket but also within other sports. Chappell describes the game as one that is constantly evolving, particularly since the introduction of the Twenty20 format.
Similarly, Rod Marsh appreciates that every group of players will have unique needs and that the coach must be able to meet these needs. He advised that the capacity to do this can be enhanced by reading, attending seminars and courses, visiting other successful teams from different sports and, of course, listening and communicating.
Although Tom Moody has completed a level 4 elite coaching course conducted by the English Cricket Board, he believes that he has learned a lot about communication and management while being involved in various cricket environments as a captain and a coach, including discussions with umpires, leading players and outstanding captains such as Clive Lloyd.
Moody has also had numerous conversations with leading coaches in other sports, such as Ric Charlesworth from hockey and John Worsfold from Australian football, as well as with leaders in the business world, such as the late John Roberts and Nigel Satterley, when he was working in the construction industry.
It is an age old axiom that a heard of lambs lead by a lion is better than a pride of lions being lead by a lamb. Shahid Afridi did a good job but a lot better could have happened had PCB understood the under currents of leadership roles correctly. The PCB needs to understand the leadership roles of captain and coach clearly and groom our future cricketers not only in cricketing talent but also in modern leadership methodology.
As far as I am concerned, Pakistan was brilliant in the World Cup. In a tournament which had its ups and downs and many ‘certainties’, there was one person from Pakistan who allows me to hold my head up high in the cricket world: Mr. Aleem Dar. It is almost impossible to imagine that during the entire tournament, this individual did not have even one of his decisions overturned by all the technology in use.
He deserves the admiration and respect of all cricket lovers in Pakistan. Surely he deserves to be rewarded much more than any team that lost the semifinals. If the Chief Minister of Punjab, who stole a march on the cricket establishment, could arrange a welcome for some of the players, surely Aleem Dar deserved more.
I am not sure which Article of Pakistan’s Constitution allows our rulers to act like Mughal emperors and freely dispense of state finds. If they had true appreciation it would only be visible if they put their hands in their own pockets and not that of the State. It is not as if they cannot afford it. Needless to say the Chief Minister of Sindh was not to be left far behind and joined the bandwagon to freely dispense State funds. Sadly neither was a cricket lover enough to reward the one Pakistani who truly deserved to be acknowledged. Aleem Dar, I hope all of Pakistan joins me in saluting you.
The retirement of Shoaib Akhtar at a relatively young age during the World Cup should teach us another lesson. Born in 1975, he is about the same age as Brett Lee. A great bowler by any standards, the Rawalpindi Express was feted by all and sundry at a very young age and is the only bowler to reach the speed of 100 mph. In only 46 Test Matches, he bagged 178 wickets at a strike rate (SR) of 45.7 and an economy rate (ER) of 3.37.
In 242 ODI’s, he picked up 242 wickets at a SR of 31.06 and an ER of 4.74.
I would like for the readers to consider a comparison with Brett Lee who born in 1976, played 76 Tests taking 310 wickets at a SR of 53.3, an ER of 3.46 and 198 ODI scalps at a SR of 34.7 with an ER of 4.72.
Shoaib Akhtar looks tired after just 4 overs whilst Brett Lee can still bowl 10 at a stretch.
I would strongly suggest that Shoaib and some other cricketers who were born with much talent did not last through their true potential because of bad player management by the PCB during their early days. Pakistan is blessed by much cricket talent which is evident by the young ages at which we have blooded our cricketers at the highest level. Our young cricketers do not have the advantage of education or benefit of sophisticated advice from their own family. This does not mean that they lack in honesty or any other quality but does leave them very exposed when boomeranged into the limelight.
Almost instant adulation does not allow them the opportunity handle fame and are easy prey to the high life. In spite of being naive and ill at ease they are welcomed into drawing rooms by our society types dying to steal a march on other newly rich people for cheap publicity. The PCB led by its chairman should ensure proper tuition for the youngsters and also provide them good advice for maximising their earnings. This can only be done if the young cricketers respect and trust the Board. It will never happen if the chairmen bathe in the reflected glory of the youngsters and also rely upon them to achieve good results. It certainly will not happen if the player calls the chairman ‘Dad’. The outcome a ‘fast’ and ‘accelerated’ youth and an early end to what could have been a great career.
I wonder how many other cricket lovers have become affected by the perception that international cricket is tainted by ‘fixing’ and thus find watching the game less fun. The e-mails flying about allegedly fore casting the results of many matches does also cause much confusion. The huge sums that were wagered on the semifinals, reportedly some US$1.5 billion, and then some US$1.75 billion on the final causes one to ponder.
The reality that some 80% of this is through illegal betting in India cannot reduce one’s concern. In this context it becomes difficult to ignore some of the more strange happenings witnessed in this tournament:
- The Indian Team losing nine wickets in a handful of overs for just 29 runs for a total of fewer than 300. They were on course for a score of at least 375. One of popular wagers offered by the bookies is called ‘Lambi’. This requires the punter to forecast the total. One wonders if this innings raised the eye brows of the ICC.
- The England v India match being tied in a remarkable manner. Shane Warne was the person who forecasted this! One wonders how this result affected the placing in that group.
- The strange manner in which some senior Pakistan players seemed to become novices in reading the run rate requirement in a limited over match. Even more amazing was that not only the captain but also a veteran coach and manager seemed so mesmerised as to forget the need to take the ‘power play’.
- The selection and body language of the Sri Lanka team in the final match. A truly world class team looked pedestrian on the day that mattered.
The uncertainties of cricket get more uncertain day by day but are not becoming glorious.
By Safdar Shaheen
The effects of sports on the human mind and body are numerous and well-known; they keep the mind sharp and the body healthy, not to mention the healing properties they possess. In fact, it is not only the participants who reap the plethora of benefits, but the onlookers are also influenced simply by the act of watching.
A number of institutions have researched on this and have disseminated their findings, revealing that mere viewing can have far-reaching emotional benefits. From drug-use prevention and reduced instances of alcoholism, to lower levels of depression, the psychological benefits of spectatorship are clear. Children and teens that are active in watching sports have better self-esteem than those who do not.
In fact, increasing the amount of sports viewership plays a direct role in developing a good self-image, as those who engage in such activities often have better social skills as well.
By rooting for their favorite team, by sharing their victories and defeats, they become a part of the social strata that is above the pettiness of society.
Interest in sports also leads to increased socialisation, as several studies have proven. In situations of social awkwardness, they often work as an ice-breaker; especially children who are joining a new school. Increased socialisation, in turn, results in lower levels of depression.
A decreased likelihood of criminal behavior has also been witnessed, since those who are involved in sports often release their pent up energies in acts of unbridled enthusiasm, and are less likely to indulge in felonious activities.
Gangs give way to sports clubs or associations, paving the way for fraternities based not on asinine displays of masculinity through acts of socially malefic behavior, but on the mutual interest of a particular game.
Low school dropout rates and academic gains have been recorded as well. Sports, even the viewership of them, may lead to acute gains in mental performance along with a greater attention span immediately following the activity, thus leading to improved study cycles.
Watching sports have also been found to help alleviate symptoms that are associated with mild to moderate depression. By providing a buffer against stress, it also can reduce symptoms of anxiety. This can protect children and even adults against stress-induced health complaints.
Imar Bashir, a 21-year-old biology major, often finds herself relaxed after watching a football game.
"Watching sport events at home are an exciting activity that helps me find relief from the stresses in my life. Seeing people in a cheerful mood, helps improve my mood as well," she said.
People who are actively involved in sports show fewer health problems when they encounter stress, as noted by several studies, since they are less likely to reach their breaking point by their constant purging of nervous energy. In fact, they often feel refreshed after a particularly suspenseful match
The perfect way for families to bond, watching a match is often regarded as the most family friendly activity, especially if children are involved and parents want to refrain from movies that increasingly show violent and wanton behavior. And if a match is intensely contentious, it becomes a complete family affair. Uncles, aunts and cousins get together and make it a proper reunion.
In today’s fast paced world where family ties are often slackened through neglect, a simple match can often bring families together.
Players have become more than their designated roles, they have become national heroes. Commanding Olympic esteem, they inspire you to be fit, athletic, and healthy. To see them run, sprint and perform feats of physical impossibility, men and women at their finest, one cannot help but make them role models and imitate their behavior.
While it is true that sports do provide a cornucopia of advantages, the over excited participant can occasionally take part in certain actions that spoil the enjoyment, actions, that are termed as ‘hooliganism’.
Nevertheless, the overall benefits cannot be marred by that.
Sports transcend the social binds of society, they give a feeling of belonging, being a part of something greater, grander than our mundanely existence. In those few seconds of anticipation as the ball (if the case may be), soars above the skies, the beholder is as part of the game as the players, some would argue even more so. In that moment, we become sublime!