Everyone hates fans. The cricket establishment hates them most as they are on social media, always ranting and abusing when things go bad. Nobody likes to hear that one is not doing good, not even when one is not playing good. Here is a message I got on my chat box.
"Please try to understand Cricket. Have you ever played Cricket? Always talk negatively when Bangladeshi players play badly. But it is Cricket and T20, so you never predict. Always think positively before going for criticize players. You are a professional writer, so try to respect other professionals."
It's true that I am a professional writer but when it comes to sports I am not a professional. Since I have never played cricket, I can't say anything as a fan. In other words, only experts can comment and fans must stay shut and only pay and cheer the team no matter what.
Yet it's the fans who keep the game and the team alive. Whether on the field, in front of the TV set or the website ticker, it's the fans that enjoy and suffer the most. It's they who care and they are probably the only group who make no money from the business of cricket. They are the only ones who pay to be fans, others get paid to be administrators, experts or of course players.
The migrants in the gallery and the stars on the ground
What was very interesting in the Afghanistan- Bangladesh match was that the crowd was made of migrant workers from both countries. Everyone knows how migrants are treated in their place of work so the team becomes a symbol of the homeland in a foreign place. For them to watch their teams play and win or lose is far deeper than anything the local fan in Dhaka can feel. It gives them a sense of value and self-worth that nothing else can.
In the 10th over the winner predictor had shifted to Bangladesh and to the crowd it was sensational. The way they cheered reminds one of the South African ODIs when Bangladesh won two in a row. It's the same crowd who was there cheering the team won in a largely crowd free stadium. To the South Africans it was a duel with an opponent which didn't matter but to the Bangladeshis there, it was their homeland visiting them. When the match shifted, the Afghan migrant worker cheered once more.
This is the big difference between the expert and the fan. To the wise man who discusses a match, he is also trying to prove how good he is. But to a fan, it's just about the land of his and his emotions. When it wins or loses, he himself does. The fan doesn't claim to be an expert. He just loves the game and the flag.
Where do fans and experts dwell?
Both live in the most ubiquitous of all spaces -social media. However, they have designated spaces of their own. The types and kinds. A new breed of people have emerged on You tube and FB who literally have hundreds and thousands of followers. However, there is a difference between these experts and those in professional media. The social media experts are more informal and much less pretentious while informing the public about cricket news.
But social media doesn't just have experts but fans as well. And they also have sites where people have fun and make fun of the game too. The reason they can do this is because they love the game and are not professionally into it. It's of course true that some make money from websites and YouTube but that's incidental to the matter. It almost always begins with raising one's hand up for the game.
This group is an interesting in-between as they fill the role of both experts and fans and that is why has more access to the crowd. Pro-media in comparison is more about selling their expertise. And that is an important distinction between pro and social media. While investment has followed pro media, influence increasingly lies with social media. And that is where the fans live.
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