Sir Albert Einstein once said,” Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Well, I was wondering whether I should call myself as such while travelling to the Kanteerava Stadium for the final group match, this time in an Ola auto for a change. Coupled with the rain gods taking a timeout, I half-prayed for a similar change in India’s fortunes after Day 1 and Day 2 brought little joy.
I was greeted at the stadium entrance by the joyous smiles of the Japanese fans – their team must have picked up another comfortable win. Watching the Japanese players interact with the fans before boarding their team bus warmed my heart and my hopes of seeing India win increased manifold.
It is really funny how we try to ‘fit’ every instance as a good omen when we really want something to happen. In this case, I badly wanted to see India win, a definite possibility, unlike the last two days.
However, the omens continued, this time they were of the negative variety. The crowd was thinner than the previous two days, the management decided to not bother switching on those sparkly decorative lights and a few people were playing badminton in front of the building. Maybe they felt their own match was more exciting than the one inside.
Trying to make sense of all the omens, my eyes instinctively searched for Shireen Limaye’s family once I entered the arena. After all, it is your family, blood-related or otherwise, who stick with you through thick and thin. They used to sit in the same row where I sit, more like the other way around.
As the game was about to start, I once again drifted to my initial thoughts of being insane for expecting a different result this time around. The families, the coaches and the reporters all had their reasons to be here, but what about a fan like me?
My train of thought was interrupted by the game kicking off. India started well with Shireen tapping into her inner Dirk Nowitzki to open the scoring with a great fadeaway. The sparse crowd were just as vociferous, cheering and supporting the team. India was playing well before Chinese Taipei did something unusual by changing the entire starting 5 after 6 minutes.
After an interesting quarter, the opponents led 28-10, and it was not looking good for India. However, I picked up some chatter in the row behind me. In a few minutes, I realized they were all well-versed about basketball and I smiled at my luck to have an opportunity to learn more about the game.
This changed my entire experience for the remaining 3 quarters with the row behind dissecting the tactics, players and suggesting changes which all made sense. Despite the effort from the team, India ended up losing the game 87-58 with Shireen once again the best player in the side.
The only two things that had gone right for me compared to the previous two days were reaching the venue on time and finding the restroom with relative ease, improvements indeed. Once again, my brain transported to the insanity thoughts for expecting India to win and was questioning myself why I am a fan. Meanwhile, a little incident took place on the pitch.
The Indian players were appreciating the fans for their support while a kid ran towards one of the players, Stephy Nixon. She was competing in this tournament post-motherhood and her husband Eudrick Pereira, a baller himself, was there to support her all along.
Suddenly, all the gloom wore off, trying to imagine the difficulties Nixon would have faced to get back on the court. And in it, I found my answer. I love basketball because stories like this are inspiring. The struggle, sacrifice and dedication needed to succeed, and the joy of winning together is soul-satisfying.
Also, it could be insanity to expect different results by trying the same thing. However, when the team and the fans keep pushing for it and not give up, magic happens and results do change. If that makes me and the other sports fans insane, so be it. Because I am sure Einstein never spent enough time or experienced the power of sports in his time. And I will be there to see Indian basketball bring cheers all around in the coming years.