“Poori nigahen Pakistani goal par.” The announcer at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium is telling us that all eyes are focused on the Pakistani goal during a penalty-corner sequence! Of course, all eyes are focussed on that goal; we know that already. “Aur is tarah Pakistan ko ek aur penalty corner.” Yes, we know that also, that Pakistan has gained one more penalty-corner.
This is essentially the kind of radio commentary we often listen to during live television coverage of India's events at the Olympic Games. The meaningless and embarrassing announcements during the key India-Pakistan pool match at the World Cup hockey tournament on Sunday night must have robbed of some fun for a near-capacity crowd that otherwise enjoyed a rare, authoritative Indian triumph over its arch-rival at home.
When a public address system at a stadium is used to convey happenings that the spectators are already witnessing, it can only be some sort of an amusement if not a distraction.
Matters made worse
The announcer made matters worse on Sunday by saying things like, “unke chehre pe chot lagi thi” (he had suffered an injury on his face) to describe the return of a Pakistani player to the field after medical attention, instead of mentioning the actual injury over his eyebrow.
His worst came at the end of the match even as the crowd erupted in joy and impromptu ‘bhangras' broke out: “India has crushed Pakistan 4-1.” No one had apparently told him that his duty was not to explain the nature of victory or defeat, but to just announce the final result and its margin.
If the announcements were not irritants enough, then the blaring music during ‘referrals' surely was. A softer background music with a few ‘visuals' on the television screen, of any hockey action — not necessarily that of the ongoing match — would have sufficed. Instead, we had freeze frames of the tournament logo. Better still would be for some experts to explain a few basic points about the rules relating to that particular infringement without going too technical or bringing in boredom through repetitions and irrelevant details.
Terribly distracting for the spectators, and perhaps for the players, was the same blaring music the moment a team received a penalty-corner, with of course, the announcer telling us that a penalty-corner has been awarded.
Why not show us clippings of India's great moments in hockey during the breaks in between matches? Why can't the announcer, with a clear diction and a command over the language and subject, at least narrate some interesting facts and figures about Indian hockey?
How many among the youth — it was essentially a young bunch that thronged the stadium on Sunday night — would have known about or seen footage of that last-gasp equaliser of Aslam Sher Khan against Malaysia or the match-winner by Ashok Kumar in the 1975 final in Kuala Lumpur?
Maybe it is too late for an organising committee that had to tackle myriad problems on every front before the competition got off to a start on Sunday, to arrange anything other than the boring announcements and the blaring music.