In The Name of Sports

Is the sports industry  just another money-making business?

What is it about the numerous cricket, football, baseball etc teams that drives its fans crazy?

The sportsmen get onto the field, play the sport and get paid for it. There are  monetary prizes for the ‘Man of the Match Award,’ the ‘Man of the Series Award,’ Prize money for the Best Bowler/Goal-keeper and so on. Money which is generated through sponsors, but which invariably is gotten out of the pockets of the fans. Most often it is money made from the merchandise sold to the fans themselves.

Over the weekend I went to see a football match in Liverpool, where the home team Liverpool played the Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wolves) and less than 24 hours later the Liverpool FC Official Store had piles of t-shirts up for sale; denoting the score of the match on it.

Pre and post match programs, caps, mugs, posters you name it, they had it. Sold exclusively at the store, all up for grabs, costing anywhere between 5 and 40 pounds. With die-hard fans falling for these exclusive goodies, the sponsoring brands seem to have made the fans their source of income!

But in two days this selected range of merchandise shall be forgotten, as Liverpool shall play their next match and depending on the outcome of the match, another stock of goodies that would be sold to its fans, exclusively yet again!

And mind you,  I am only citing an example here, it is a well-known fact that indeed every sports team uses the same tricks of the trade to lure in customers.

Which brings me back to the question, have the various sports and the fans that follow them found themselves in the middle of a marketing gimmick?

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Ice-skating at Somerset House

Always a houseful, ice-skating at Somerset house was no let down. It definitely left me wanting more time on the ice!

With Christmas carols battling against the 2009 Hip Hop and R&B chart toppers on the speakers, ice-skaters get to spend an hour under the Christmas decorations and snowflake shaped lights.

That's me on the ice!

Making their way around the rink beginners and veterans alike, slide around in circles some with ease and some holding onto the railings for dear life!

The one time falling flat on your rear makes you laugh is when you are around friends and just having a good time, ‘trying’ to ice skate.

The weather doesn’t give you a chill and time simply flies by, after having taken a number of pictures to capture the memories of the night.

Saying Goodbye

As the clock hits the hour mark people are unwilling asked to leave the rink. Slowly but unwillingly making their way out, you can already hear people making plans to re-visit to the rink in the coming weeks before it closes down for the year.

To experience the fun of ice-skating amidst the beautiful backdrop of neo-classical architecture along with a number of amateur skaters, just like yourself. Somerset House is the place to be on a cold winters night.

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Man-boy of the Year Award!

What do you call somebody who is old enough to be a man but looks more like a young boy? A ’Man-boy’!

A fan posing with to a life size poster of Imran Khan

According to a Bollywood style and fashion based website in India, the latest entrant to the Bollywood industry, Imran Khan of the ‘Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na’ fame has won this award!

His chocolate boy looks and not so impressive bushy eyebrows have won the hearts of his young fans. Giving a kick in the face to the entire concept of metrosexual men who otherwise neatly trim their eyebrows, shave their chest etc.

The thin ties with plaid shirts or the introduction of vests over shirts made him the new style guru over night. His lean figure and taking the chance and putting on skinny jeans have created a new fashion statement across Bollywood and India.

His ‘ganji’s’ that allow us only barely there glimpses of his tattoo at the nape of his neck leaves fans craving for more.

But he wins brownie points for constantly displaying his loyalty to his girlfriend in public. Always seen by his side for public events, adds to the fact that fans find him to be very reliable as a partner. This makes him not only more loveable to the teens but to mummies and aunties alike!

A definite face to watch out for in the years 2010, Imran Khan has made his mark as a successful debutant in Bollywood.

The Holiday

For the first time in the last three months I felt like a tourist in London.

Waking up early, visiting every tourist attraction, lugging shopping bags around and endless tube and bus rides! The past week has by far been my busiest period in London!

Three months on in the city, I had gotten comfortable in the 10-5 classes, four days a week routine that were followed by a relaxed evening catching up with friends and family back home via the internet.

An easy going slow paced routine that I had grown to like.

Finding our place on the map!

To my surprise, having my family around during the holiday period kept me on my toes all through out, exhausting me by mid-afternoon itself.

Between playing tour guide, part-cook, working on my blog and trying to squeeze in time to spend with the family I felt more like a tourist in London than ever before.

Having visited all the local attractions, skipped meals and taken hundreds of pictures, I saw London through a different perspective. Everyday was a weekend.

Long hours sightseeing followed by even longer queues to visit tourist attractions.

The Good Life!

I wasn’t on any kind of budget and got a chance to stock up on clothes and accessories. There was no time to get bored and definitely no time to waste idling around.

I greeted all, the Madame Tussauds museum, London Eye, Big Ben and Houses of Parliament, over the span of a few hours.

Eating out may have turned my stomach upside down but as long as I didn’t have to cook two meals a day, I wasn’t complaining!

While I had planned on catching up with my backlog of cleaning and socializing with friends around London during this break, none of that happened.

Instead I broke out of my routine put on my adventure boots and scouted around London, taking in the sight and sounds it had to offer. Along with spending some time with my family!

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An Unexpected Turn Of Events

Slowly skating around, one slide at a time he manages to make his way across barely 1/10th of the ice-rink.

Holding onto the railing as if for dear life, afraid to let go, fearful for hitting the ground and falling flat on his derriere. The last thing he needs is for the cold ice to make its way in and touch his warm skin through the numerous layers of clothing.

The snow flakes that touch upon his eye lashes and then move on to settle on his cheeks giving him a teaser of what it would feel like to have the snow touch him. Sending a chill down his spine. The only difference is, if he falls, it would be harder, much colder and even more embarrassing.

The Somerset House Ice-rink

Praying to god hoping time shall move faster, he dreadfully looks at the clock through the corner of his eye. He put on a smile every time his fellow mates skate past him promising to join them in a minute or two; once he gets accustomed to these aliens on his feet; the ice-skates.

Kicking himself for agreeing to go there, his self-esteem and male ego take him on a guilt trip to the depths of the dark side. All he sees is women giggling at him, men scorning him and children ridiculing him.

So ashamed he is that not once does he look up and around him to see at least another 20 people making the same mistakes he is. His confidence is shattered and he can’t wait to make his way out of there. Back onto stable ground, where he knows his way around.

Thirty minutes into the hour and still no luck, he’s only made his way around the rink once, that too with the help of the ice-marshal. Luckily for him, he’s managed not to fall down as yet.

Flat On The Ground

Just when he thinks he can’t curse himself anymore, whoosh, it finally happens – he’s off the ground for a split second and then on it again, thud. His cap’s fallen to one side, his buttocks on the floor and feet up in the air, with the blades of his skates staring down at him. He’s been thrown flat onto the ice, the one thing he managed not to do in his time there.

Red in the face out of embarrassment and bruised in the knee by the absolute feel of it due to the pressure with which he fell. He slowly struggles to make his way up, hands on the cold ice, knees on it as well.

One leg up, the second one’s nearly there, he mumbles to himself hurling mental abuses to the culprit of this ridiculous accident. And then he hears music to his ears, a kind, and sincere apology.

He Slowly Softens Up

Before he can say anything to her, his heart melts and while trying to go on, on his half beaten path, she starts talking to him about how much she loves the ice-rink and even though she can’t skate!

Trying hard in his head to divert his attention he’s drawn in by her enthusiasm, learning she’s already fallen down seven times in counting.

In a comforting manner she takes his hand and leads him through the rink. He feels himself let down his guard and gives her the reins to his skates. Slowly increasing their pace, he finds he is enjoying himself. All of a sudden, the ice seems to have become friendlier and the skates his new best friends.

The giggling girls, scornful men and laughing children don’t matter anymore, in fact he wonders if they were directed towards him in the first place.

He looks up at the clock, but this time he’s afraid the hour might be up. Time he hopes shall now stand still letting him enjoy the gift of the present. The beauty of the snow and the company of this girl who so easily changed his mood for the night.

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The Mere Presence of a Camera

The camera possesses the power to make people react in the strangest manner, even with its shutters closed.

Known for its function of capturing motion in the form of still images, the camera can make people act in the quirkiest fashion, by merely being visible to some people.

Known for my love for taking pictures, of anything and everything that I see. Over the years, I’ve come across an array of people and how they react to the camera.

Make people stand in front of a camera and trust them to surprise you. Often people get so conscious that they lose their otherwise beautiful smile! And then, no matter how hard they try, they are unable to give a genuine smile!

A Few Examples

There are those people who get fidgety and simply cannot look at the camera directly. Playing with their hair, staring at the floor and constantly moving around while trying to be shot are some of the things they tend to do. I’ve learnt that these people look best in profile shots, capturing them in their element prevents them from acting awkward in front of the shutter!

Next in line follow the eyes shut people, although cute initially, having their eyes shut and a big grin on their face, does lean toward being a weird looking picture. Sometimes they even result in the ruining of an otherwise perfect picture.

The strangest of them all; those that make people look strangely serious or like completely different people! A forced smile makes them look fake, so the only thing that passes off as decent is a photograph of them laughing! And the list goes on..

While the camera is an entertaining gadget to experiment with. It never fails to marvel me with its ability to capture and bring out a completely different side to people, whether the shutters are open or not.

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With the January 4 deadline looming over our heads, almost everyone from the MAJI(Master’s in Journalism, International) class has their minds on one thing above all, writing BLOGS.

Not just one or two blogs a week, it’s more like two a day; if our thought process allows us to do the same!

It’s our final bid, anything to help pull our grades up and everything to make sure we aren’t falling short on the 17 blogs half mark. Even though we are all striving to reach the 35 blogs ‘safe zone’!

But with all the festive mayhem in the air, last minute shopping and the little time we have to spend with our families. Be it in Ireland, Malta, India or Egypt, time is short and ideas are plenty!

When we are trying to strike a balance at a time like this, where does one draw the line then? To stop doing whatever it is they are and constantly take notes for their next blog topic, or simply let go of the assignment and enjoy the holidays?

The later may sound more fun, the consequences would be disastrous – failure! So instead if just enjoying yourself, you’ve multi-tasking, all the time! While it does get chaotic at times and you can easily go off tangent. The best thing would be to jot down notes when ideas come your way!

On the flip side

Three months as a blogger, thinking continuously, making sure I imbibed blogging into my system and daily routine, has made me realize that blogging is not that difficult after all!

Blogging in a way has grown on me. Today, I sometimes feel the need to blog, express my views in words and put it out there on the Internet for the world to read, analyze and give me their feedback.

It has helped me become more aware of my surroundings and has definitely improved my feature writing skills! So I guess while I’m cringing under a deadline today, it’s only going to help me increase the number of published posts and written memories in the long run!

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