Hungry Fans Have Retro Sports Diet To Feast On
Sports channels, websites and newspapers are diving into their archives to excite fans
The world of sport has come to a standstill due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. High energy events that sportspersons and fans alike wait for, like the Olympics, Indian Premier League, the Champions' League for football and many others have been either suspended or cancelled.
With newspapers finding it hard to fill their sports sections with news, and sports websites and television channels unable to carry live scores and telecasts, these platforms are trying to keep the hardcore sports fans engaged.
2 April holds a special significance in India's sporting history. This was the day when the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Indian team lifted the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2011. This year marks the ninth anniversary of that memorable event, but sports channels and cricket websites gave it a much bigger play—as though it was the 50th or the 100th year of the great victory. Daily newspapers did not lag too far behind, with some carrying tributes to the team or recalling the events of the day.
ESPNCricinfo, the cricketing website, came up with the unique concept of ‘retro live’ for this period. This, basically, is a ball-by-ball commentary of cricket matches, in exactly the same way as it is done during a live match.
The website broadcasted two 'retro live' matches of the 2011 World Cup involving India, on the same dates as they had taken place in 2011. So, it started with the semi-final match between India and Pakistan in Mohali, that India won. Then came the final between India and Sri Lanka in Mumbai. The commentary began at the same time as the match had begun.
On the other hand, Star Sports, the leading sports broadcaster in India, showed the 2011 World Cup matches on the days they had taken place in 2011. The ratings for these retro shows may come later, but looking at the buzz they created, it is possible that audiences, sitting at home, may have relived the World Cup moments yet again, through the innovative plan.
Could the newspapers be left far behind, then? Even though their sports pages have dwindled, with some dailies carrying just one page, leading papers such as The Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Hindu, The Telegraph and The Indian Express reported on the 2011 victory prominently. On other days when there are no anniversaries to celebrate, they simply carry highlights of classic matches, recall legendary sporting feats and speak to the legends themselves.
Of course, the real beauty of sport is the uncertainty and the anticipation of the next moment on the ground. In the absence of real action, the show must go on—even if it means looking back to conquer.