During our school’s summer vacation, when I was in class 7, my mother and I decided that I should go to a summer camp for cricket in my city for young kids like me to hone our skills in cricket. The camp was four weeks long and was five days a week in the morning from 6 o’clock to half-past eight. I really enjoyed playing cricket a lot before, but after this camp I loved it.
Cricket is the most loved sport in India, the craze during the IPL season compares to that of the Superbowl in the USA. There are many variations in cricket from test to one-day to T-20, but no matter what the type, you will always get a full-house in stadiums with spectators travelling days just to see one match. Many kids from a young age enjoy playing it, one day hoping to be like Sachin Tendulkar, an Indian, who is often referred to as the God of Cricket. I was no different. My entire family is filled with cricket fans. Even though we do not watch every match in the stadium, we all together as a family watch cricket whenever we can. Naturally, I started playing cricket at a very young age and have liked it ever since. But only as a game. In the beginning cricket to me was much like a game of ludo or monopoly, it never really mattered if I won or I lost, it was all about the enjoyment while playing the game itself. However, it soon changed.
I still vividly remember this day. Two of my friends, who shared my enthusiasm for the game, also decided that they would go to this camp, and since we all lived nearby, we decided to carpool and go together. On the first day, I remember, I got up very early, and decided to get ready as quickly as possible so we would not be late. We were almost going to reach the camp place when we thought that we were going to be the first ones and we could have left a little later. On reaching there we saw that there were already fifteen people waiting and doing some bowling and batting, while waiting for everyone else to come. It was then that I realized that I wasn’t the only who was so passionate about cricket.
It was quarter to six in the morning in May, our summer vacation was halfway through, I would never be so pumped up as I now was, so early in the morning. There was something about what we were going to do that made me feel more active than ever. The surroundings were, I think, the closest thing to a stadium for a 13-year-old. Although, there were various noises like cars going past the ground or people doing a morning walk and gossiping, everything was flushed out for me like the way background noises are when you wear a pair of noise cancellation headphones. Soon two coaches came and asked us to keep our kits in the shade of a tree, where the batting team would sit during the match. They quickly went over what this camp would be, what they expected of us, what we should do to remain fit and not get injured so that we could enjoy the camp for the entire month. They then asked us to introduce ourselves and asked some basic trivia questions to tell us that cricket was both about the mind and the body. We then went over some basic safety requirements as well. We were first lined up parrel to the boundary, then we did exercise such as suicides (like in basketball), light jogging, and even stretching. Since it was the first day, we were split into two teams and played a match, so that the coaches would know what all of us were capable of. On this day the adrenaline rush I had was nothing in comparison to what I felt when I just played casually with friends. I played brilliantly that day, better than I ever had. I think I performed well because of the fact that it actually mattered, I pushed myself to bowl faster and field better. I could feel that not only did I get better in that instant, I felt more alive than I had ever felt while playing cricket. But that wasn’t the case for a really long time.
I really wanted to play cricket for my school. So, in order to do so I had to practice in order to be selected. I started practicing bowling and fielding whenever I got the chance. I was striving for perfection correcting everything wrong about my game. However, I started getting injured a lot and after practicing I would get so exhausted that I had no energy to do anything else. Soon something changed in my relationship with cricket. I still loved it and was still very passionate about it, but I didn’t enjoy playing the same way I used to. Which made me think that games and sports are not the same thing.
For me a game has always been a form leisurely activity, however, sports are anything but that. Although, according to the definition of game, cricket can be called that, maybe sports are just a synonym for games. But what the definition doesn’t account for is the difference in emotions you feel while playing these two separate entities. You won’t be feeling the same sadness, if you lose a game, but you would be devastated if you lose a sports match. Being the vice-captain of my school’s cricket team, making important decisions for the team and playing on, even if I have no energy left, according to me, is not something you would do while playing a game. The adrenaline rush one gets while playing a sport is nothing in comparison to what one feels while playing a game. We would do anything to win, doing something to the other team, sledging just to get into the other player’s head because there was this sense of an unhealthy competition. Even though I disliked it I would still do it in order to win against a team who were better than us. But this kind of stuff wasn’t necessary while playing it as a game, whenever, we played we always had fun, if someone hit my ball for a six, we would all laugh, and it wouldn’t annoy me at all. Therefore, to me games will always be an activity to bond with friends and have fun. However, the sad truth is that no one rewards you for playing cricket as game. What I realized was that when you play something, and it transitions from being a game to it being a sport, you lose the enjoyment, the thing that made you like and play it in the first place. Although, I don’t see myself playing cricket as a sport in the near future, I would be willing to play it at whatever time in the day as a game with friends.