Noam Chomsky and cricket - Fans' attention diverted towards the unimportant
Fixing allegations in sports, the expected game of passing the baton of blame, the seemingly unceasing calls for an administrative rejig, the portrayal of enraged fans roaring for change, followed by the most worrying point of all, the silence; the media has repeatedly followed this kind of mechanism of functioning.
It brings issues that are important to the people to the fore, but as soon as a fresh issue is up for exploiting in the market, it briskly divorces the previous one. Elevating issues to the level of attaining public importance and then leaving them midway is something that people have become used to from the media.
The well-known American linguistic Noam Chomsky labels people following the media as the bewildered herd. He believes that it is in the interest of the governing authorities to divert the attention of the people to things that are actually unimportant in nature. Using the media, the governing authorities are able to feed people information that diverts their mind from coming in the way of important and powerful people.
Chomsky believes that sports itself is unimportant to the people and is actually a tool used for diversion of potent minds and to reduce their capacity to think. But sports fans will always have a different way of looking at sports. From playing a key role in nation-building during the early 90s to being used as a tool for peace by promoting feelings of brotherhood between nations in the wake of conflicts, sports today have crossed boundaries to attract fan bases from across the world.
But what is worth paying attention to is the power structure that Chomsky identifies. This power structure is also very clearly seen in cricket in India. After the clamour from the media in the initial stages of the breaking out of the spot-fixing scandals, everything seems to have settled down. The tainted players are out on bail and have denied involvement in any kind of fixing.
First with the Champions Trophy progressing without a hitch and then the India-Sri Lanka-West Indies tri-series scheduled just days after the conclusion of the Champions Trophy, the governing bodies seem to have given the people of India enough to pay attention to. The success in the ICC event suggests that all is well in the Indian camp. This unhindered progression of uninterrupted cricket has kept the fans away from what is important to them. Going by Chomsky’s theory, the cricket matches are in fact offered to the people as a largely unimportant aspect of the larger picture.
Slowly but surely, the BCCI, armed with what looks like unintentional help from the media, is again succeeding in diverting people’s minds from its lack of professionalism in governing the religion-like sport in the country. It is succeeding in giving passive audiences a sense of patriotism, something to pay attention to in the form of matches around the world. Yet again, we shall forget what unfolded in IPL 2013 and what happened to those extensive internal investigation plans of the BCCI.
The confused and annoyed masses that are receiving doses of diversion through continuous cricket will soon accept the sense of normalcy that is being manufactured. And as Chomsky says, the aim is the keep the bewildered herd, bewildered.