Down 10-17 after the second round, Devendro Singh Laishram, all of 20 years, trudged back to his coach, disappointed. Devendro was facing Paddy Barnes in the quarter-finals of the Olympics. Devendro was just one win away from earning an Olympic medal. Watching this bout at 1:15 am, I couldn’t help but feel a little let-down. Still all hope was not lost. There was still one round to go. Devendro was trailing Paddy by 7 points and if Paddy Barnes could muster a handsome lead, so could Devendro! There was always the possibility of Devendro knocking out his opponent, like he did in the first round. Or the judges could screw up once again and award the match in favour of Devendro.
So with renewed hope, I waited for the third round to begin. The referee signalled the boxers and the final round began. Devendro started off well and looked to be having the upper hand. Paddy Barnes was given a warning and an extra two points was awarded to Devendro! Now it was only a matter of two left uppercuts and a couple of right hooks before Devendro could progress. But as expected and more realistically, it was too much to expect from Devendro. Devendro won the round 8-6 but lost the match 23-18. Devendro might have lost the match but won many hearts in the process. His aggression and style was refreshing to watch. Now to get on with the story.
The person here, the author, depicts the Indian sports fan. For practical purposes, I will use the word “fan”. Even when all hope seems lost, when the odds are stacked heavily against our team, when there is absolutely no way out, the fan never gives up. Even when our team is down in the dumps and has reached its lowest ebb, we will still support our team when offered one last tiny chance of partial redemption. For instance, in the case of our Hockey team, in spite of the team losing all of its matches, the fan still tuned in to watch the last match. The match was a classification game, a battle to avoid the dubious tag of the “Wooden spoon” holders. The South Africans took the lead in the eighth minute. But India hit back and equalized in the 14th minute. Unfortunately the South Africans were in the lead once again. With four minutes to go, our team reduced the deficit to one goal, the possibility of another goal would take the game to extra time. But there was to be no redemption. No light at the end of the tunnel.
There are highs and lows, in equal measure for the fan. The Fan will always support the team/country no matter what. The fan might be critical of the team/players after a bad day in the office, but the reason behind that is expectation and hope. The fan will support the player even when the player is slipping.
The fan will stand by its team and its players, no matter how they perform. The fan will spur the team and transform the players. Without the fan, the team will not have the motivation to play. The fan will do anything and everything possible to make his/her team win. The fan will wait for hours in a queue to get tickets to watch his team play. The Fan will buy a jersey of his favourite player. The Fan will always believe in his/her team. The fan will flock to the stadium, even when the team has already lost the series 4-0. The fan is a die-hard supporter. The fan never loses hope. The team is a part of the fan. The fan is a part of the team. The pain of defeat is crushing, but then the joy of victory is overwhelming and that is what the fan so deeply desires! We are the Indian sports buffs!