*By Sanjeev Kumar Nayak
As it seems, ban culture has become all pervasive. Ban the book, ban the film, ban beef… the list is becoming endless. And now there is a talk of banning a stadium. One wonders where all these bans will lead us to. The mindset of banning a thing over some frivolous issue has become a bane in itself.
Take the case of Barabati episode. No doubt the behavior of the exasperated spectators that evening was unbecoming of peace-loving people of Odisha. It has drawn flak from all quarters, and quite deservingly. But some people have gone to the extent of blaming the whole Odia community for the folly of a few. This stems out of the general practice of over-generalization.
If an objective look is taken at the whole gamut as a true sports lover, one can clearly realize that a mountain is being made out of a mole hill. Though condemnable, the reaction from the galleries was but natural given the poor performance of India. Cricket lovers, who had come from far-off places to see their stars dazzle, got restive and acted in desperation.
And not that such a thing happened for the first time. It has happened everywhere in every sport world over. History is replete with incidents wherein frustrated admirers reacted in such a manner, often violently, whenever their favorite players performed much below their expectations.
Even Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, the home pitch of Sunil Manohar Gavaskar who is the most vociferous advocate of banning Barabati from hosting matches in future, has not been free from such incidents. He should be reminded of the 2006 incident when Sachin Tendulkar was booed by the home crowd at Wankhede as the cricketing legend did not put up a good show. In 2013, Virat Kolhi too had to face a harsh crowd during an IPL match at Wankhede when he under-performed.
The stadium has also courted many other controversies on many counts in the past. But Gavaskar never had the audacity to utter a word against the unruly crowd, leave apart talking of ban. Then, why single out Barabati? The cricketing giant suggesting a ban in a patronizing tone is uncalled for, especially when he has no authority to do so.
As incidents like this have happened many times in the past and would no doubt keep happening in the future, the best solution is to ignore the one in hand and develop a mechanism to ensure that such incidents do not recur in future wherever the matches are held.
Instead of exhibiting holier-than-thou attitude and indulging in blame-game, BCCI should formulate a set of standard operating procedures (SOP) applicable to all the stadiums and ensure their strict adherence by the state cricket bodies while hosting a match. It should rather play a pro-active role in ensuring incident-free matches than repenting at leisure after something like this happens.
*The author is the Consulting Editor of odishasuntimes.com