June 2000 Bulletin

Photograph of the Month

In this Olympic year, we now highlight the 1956 Indian Olympic hockey team. In Chapter 1 of his autobiography 'The Golden Hat Trick', Indian captain Balbir Singh Sr. mentions the letter written by his father before his departure for Melbourne.

My father Dalip Singh was a freedom fighter. He had wasted the best years of his life in jails, the longest being the one and a half year term in Mianwali Jail (now in Pakistan). His letter, in Urdu, was full of chaste counsel. It is one of those rare documents that I still possess and read in moments of despair. It read:

Dear Balbir,

Sat Sri Akal. As captain of your team, you will have to be extremely cautious.

  1. You must never be arrogant. Arrogance is a disease. Everyone has the right to have a certain amount of pride, but not arrogance.
  2. It could be likely that some members of the team will be jealous of you. You must treat them with kindness and give them full justice.
  3. On account of your brilliance, teams of various countries will be itching to pull you down. You will have to be very careful and guard against injuries.
  4. You should be friendly with everyone.
  5. You will not play for yourself but for your country. You will have to keep the honour of the National Flag. You will have to enhance India's prestige. I have sacrificed my entire career at the altar of 'Bharat Mata'. I have never in my life done anything that would tarnish the image of India.
  6. You must score at the first available opportunity. Hockey is not a game for selfish players. You must never allow a good chance to go abegging.
  7. You must always be calm and keep your presence of mind. Needless excitement will only spoil your judgement.
  8. Alertness is the need of the hour.
  9. You must always respect your well-wishers and be of help to them.
  10. Every player must live in the atmosphere of mutual trust and friendship and play for the country. We in Moga are praying that India's hockey team wins another Olympic gold medal.

Over the fortnight of the Melbourne Olympics, free India went on to complete her first and only Golden Hat Trick. Melbourne was the venue of India's first ever match against Pakistan. India emerged triumphant, beating Pakistan 1-0 in the final.

1956 Gold Medal Winning Team

Photo Courtesy : Balbir Singh Sr.'s Golden Hat Trick

Sports Advertisement of the Month

Head has American tennis star Andre Agassi endorsing their latest brand of tennis rackets.

The advertisement copy states that the new T1 Radical racket, made of a composite of titanium and graphite, along with TwinTube technology, makes for a lightweight racket with optimum ball feel and dampening for tennis professionals.

With Andre Agassi endorsing, which tennis player wouldn't agree?

Andre Agassi in a Head Advertisement

Visitor of the Month

Aaditya Pathak, who works for the Zee Television Network, is this edition's Visitor of the Month. This was his query to the Indian hockey website:

We are one of the largest broadcasting companies in South Asia. We are looking at telecasting and promoting various domestic and international hockey tournaments.

I would like to know how the domestic as well as the international hockey circuit functions in terms of tournaments/leagues and other related details. Also, where can we get information regarding the telecast rights of forthcoming hockey tournaments?

Media Matters

The media that we will talk about in this month's column is not books or television, but movies. Not the 35mm or 70 mm movies that we see in theatres, but IMAX movies that are displayed on huge screens 5 stories high. 

The first IMAX movie based on a sports star has been released. Called Michael Jordan to the Max, the movie is being shown at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. This is a joint production of NBA Entertainment and IMAX Corporation, and is presented by mvp.com.

The movie is 45 minutes of visual ecstasy. Jordan's acrobatics are captured in super slow motion. His fakes, fade-away jumpers and trademark dunks are filmed from every camera angle imaginable.

Bullet-time technology is used to freeze a Michael Jordan slam dunk flight in midair, and then give the viewers the sensation of being with him as he defies gravity.

It is appropriate that the first IMAX movie on a sports star would be on Michael Jordan - a 20th century phenomenon, the most commercially successful athlete ever, and a sports star who has transcended borders, cultures, age and gender.

Michael Jordan to the Max

How to Create a Sports League

World Wrestling FederationThe World Wrestling Federation (WWF) and NBC Sports have announced the formation of a professional football league named XFL, short for Extreme Football League.

League Format : The cities selected in the inaugural year are Birmingham, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Memphis, New York, Orlando and San Francisco. All 8 franchises will be owned by the WWF, eliminating the possibility of a rich owner signing on the best players and buying a championship. 

Team rosters will be limited to 40 players and will include free agents, players from other leagues and from colleges. The league would expand to upto 12 teams in 2002.

Season Dates : The league will begin operations in February 2001 and will run through April, starting the week after the Super Bowl. The inaugural year will see a 10-game regular season, followed by 2 playoff games. Eight teams in two divisions will compete for four playoff spots. 

Prior to the season, there will be a draft in October where the teams will select the players. Every XFL team will conduct a series of mini-camps following the draft. Formal training camps will begin a month before the regular season.

Money Matters : The average salary of a player would be $50,000 per year. Contracts for the players and coaches will include a base salary, and incentive bonuses based on performance. 

Ticket prices during the regular season will average around $23, less than half of the NFL average of $50.

Television : This will be a made for television league. There will be microphones everywhere - in the huddle, on players, coaches, and referees. Cameras and announcers will be present in the locker room. In-game interviews will be allowed from the bench area.

NBC Sports has invested $30 million in this joint venture with the WWF. NBC will air games live during prime time on Saturdays, while UPN would provide live broadcast on Sunday evenings. NBC is looking for a audience rating of 4.0 to break even.

Fun With Numbers

The International Hockey Federation has 118 member countries from around the world. The following is the continent-wise breakup:

Continent Countries
Europe 43
Asia 32
Pan-America 26
Africa 12
Oceania 5

Countries from Europe and Asia comprise 64% of the FIH members. Let's see if this continent-wise representation is reflected in the list of participants in the most recent Olympics, World Cup and Champions Trophy tournaments.

Gender Tournament Year Venue Europe/Asia
Men Olympics 2000 Sydney 9 of 12 (75%)
   World Cup 1998 Utrecht 9 of 12 (75%)
   Champions Trophy 2000 Amsterdam 5 of 6 (83%)
   Champions Trophy 1999 Brisbane 5 of 6 (83%)
Women Olympics 2000 Sydney 6 of 10 (60%)
   World Cup 1998 Utrecht 7 of 12 (58%)
   Champions Trophy 2000 Amsterdam 3 of 6 (50%)
   Champions Trophy 1999 Brisbane 3 of 6 (50%)

To summarize, European and Asian countries have a participation rate higher than their demographic representation (avg. 79%) in men's hockey, and a lower participation rate (avg. 54%) in women's hockey.

Money Matters

The English Hockey Association (EHA) incurred a 150,000 loss by staging the 10-nation Women's Olympic Qualifier at Milton Keynes in March 2000.

The loss was attributed to sponsorship and television deals that never materialised, and a smaller than anticipated grant received from UK Sport for conducting the tournament.

Low attendance figures of 14,000 paid spectators for the 9-day event (average 1,500 per day) also contributed to the loss. The attendance was fell far short of the numbers women's hockey enjoyed in their heyday of the annual Wembley international, when on several occasions more than 50,000 attended.

EHA chief executive Richard Wyatt said that clubs affiliated to the EHA would not have to cover the loss. He said, "there are no plans to raise affiliation fees any more than we would have done in 2000. Savings will be made by improving our levels of cost efficiency and general operations."

Birthdays This Month

Ashok Kumar (courtesy Wills Book of Excellence) Zafar Iqbal (courtesy Wills Book of Excellence)
Ashok Kumar
Jun 1, 1949
Zafar Iqbal
Jun 12, 1956
Baljeet Dhillon (courtesy Hindu) Gavin Ferreira (courtesy Sportstar)
Baljeet Singh Dhillon
Jun 18, 1973
Gavin Ferreira
Jun 29, 1971