Coming hard on the heels of what has been a terrible year for this country, the Pakistan cricket team's match-fixing allegations seem like a great cosmic joke being played on us. There is very little we can do about floods, bombs, corruption and war, but when our national sports idols decide to make complete asses of themselves on the world stage, it feels like a kick in the gut.
Although I usually argue against the concept of national embarrassment, this is an instance where it is difficult to blame either Zardari or Mother Nature for the latest reason the world has to hate Pakistanis. Because you see, sports idols represent us in more ways than the government does. We may not elect them, but they are one of the few examples of social mobility in this country. They are looked up to because they are supposed to have earned worldwide respect through sheer talent. There are very few professions left in this country which children across all social stratas believe they have a shot at, and this is one of them. Who on earth would dream of being on the Pakistan cricket team now?
Aside from the completely unethical nature of what the team has done, I think they should personally apologize to every child who feels betrayed by them. I don't care about their careers and don't know enough about the sport to wonder what repercussions this will have for it, but I do care about disappointed hopes and hurt children.
Really? I mean really? I thought the national morale couldn't possibly get any worse than it is now, but perhaps we should thank the cricket team for showing us a lower low can always come. When other countries announce that cricket matches being held for Pakistan flood relief are being canceled for fear that our team will deliberately lose, it leaves you lost for words. This was really all that was left for us to hear on the news this week. Cricket seemed to be the only time Pakistanis could be flag-waving fanatics without being either violent or insane, but it seems we've been robbed of that small pleasure as well. It may not surprise us when the government lets children die, but when our cricketers let little boys' dreams get crushed for a few thousand pounds, the sense of betrayal is disproportionately greater.