Betting And PatriotismHameed Abdul Karim
Cricket used to be gentleman’s game but now it is a businessman’s game with even players considered businessmen instead of players or gentlemen. Against this backdrop, MP Thilanga Sumathipala’s call or order (The Sunday Leader, March 6, 2011) for all Sri Lankans to support Sri Lanka must be seen as a racist one especially when you consider the rather inflammatory statements he has made in his Sinhala newspaper Lakbima.
There are people who gamble on games and if a Sri Lankan were to place bets on a side playing against Sri Lanka, would that be considered unpatriotic, especially if he has advance knowledge that the game has been fixed? Every business has its corrupt side. Cricket being a business is no exception. After all business is all about making money and more money.
Take into account the time when leading Sri Lankan players refused to go to England because the tour was clashing with the IPL league in India. Some of our leading players were in contract with the IPL where they were making millions. Then there was a time when star cricketers refused a tour (Sharjah if I am not mistaken) because the ‘fees’ were not enough. Were they unpatriotic? Yes, if you think in terms of patriotism and all that bull. I chose to think differently. I chose to think they were businessmen and like any businessman they were going for the max on the deal.
If the Sri Lankan team was weak and if it were playing a strong side, whom will Thilanga Sumathipala, who has bookie contacts — if not an outright bookie — place his bets on? On patriotism? My foot! In Sri Lanka patriotism is the first resort of the scoundrel
Besides, Thilanga Sumathipala had been sentenced to two years imprisonment for fraud and forgery and in my not so humble opinion he should be the last person to preach to us on patriotism – which is an anachronism in the business/racket minded world of today. We are fully aware of the rampant corruption in the higher echelons of government of which Sumathipala is a part of. Should he not focus his patriotism on his colleagues instead of going to weaker sections of society like the people to display his brand of patriotism?
I won’t be upset if somebody writes in and says ‘Why label corruption in government as corruption. Government, after all, is also a business.’ Now I wonder what Sumathipala would say to that? Place your bets, please.