Harsha Bhogle on his brand new quiz show, India becoming a multi-sport country and female representa

Sports commentary in India has seen some legendary names leave their indelible mark. But one man who continues to be the figurehead, particularly in the realm of cricket commentary, is the dependable Harsha Bhogle. The funny, meticulously charming specialist commentator now takes on a new role. Harsha will host the Ultimate Sports Quiz show, where 27 school teams from 22 cities will compete for the coveted grand prize. However, Harsha does have some experience in the field — he hosted ESPN School Quiz in the early 2000s. In an interview with Indulge, he tells us more about the show, his love for the sport and why women need more representation in sport. Excerpts:

What made you decide to host the Ultimate Sports Quiz?
We had done a quiz show about 16 years ago and I was struck by the camaraderie and brotherhood that permeated the world of sports quizzes far beyond the competition. There were kids who would literally go at each other like in a competition and compare their wits to someone else, but they made friendships that have lasted to this day. For many viewers, it became a cult series. To this day I still get messages about when I will restart this quiz because it was so much fun and people learned a lot from the quiz and their love for the sport grew from it. So I thought let’s do it again.

How do you think sports news should be consumed at a time when there is an explosion of information and misinformation?
Sometimes the messages you receive are true, sometimes not, so we have to be careful about what we read. If you receive a sports talk on whatsapp please check it carefully as we are all media companies now. So don’t forward it unless you know it’s true. The only way to absorb more information is to see a lot and read a lot. A 100-word redirect only gives information about the result. They don’t just want to know how many times Nadal Djokovic has beaten. They don’t just want to know how many times Federer has played against Nadal. You want to see how a competition is unfolding, so I hope more and more people will watch sport, not just to see the highlights and results, but I hope that they’ll be interested in what’s behind the result.

Are you involved in research for the show and preparing questions?
There are far better people than me who can do that. Sometimes when I look at the questions I want to thank God for asking the questions and not answering them. It must be researched specific to the competition. Only by referring to the answer can I say something to make the competition livelier, so I go through the questions carefully.

Tell us about your love of sports and what sparked your interest in becoming a commentator.
I loved sports and loved the idea of ​​playing sports. But back then sport was not a profession and you quickly knew where your limits were. Part of anyone’s success in life is knowing their limitations and breaking them and trying to keep moving forward, so I took a chance. But I also had another job, I couldn’t just say I’ll be a commentator because there wasn’t a job like that. Back then, two games were played a year. One thing led to another, but I used to do radio shows; One of the reasons I have a relationship with children today is because I was the same kind of bubbly young person with a love of sports. I would do sports rounds on the local radio. When local TV started doing sports summaries I did. By the time the cricket commentary opportunity came up I had commented quite a bit and I knew the sport and I had read a lot about it.

Although we are a cricket loving country many other sports are getting attention today. What are your thoughts on this?
One of the most watched shows continues to be PV Sindhu’s final badminton match at the 2016 Olympics. I think it’s fantastic. I would love it if India was a multisport country. The young generation loves football and I would encourage them to follow Indian football. But also because they love sports, they will all know as much about Mary Kom as they do about young Nikhat Zareen, who just won the Women’s World Boxing Championship. When the Olympics come around, they follow Indian archery, wrestling and boxing because they are interested in sports. However, there will also be a percentage of people who are sole sports watchers who only watch football, badminton, kabaddi or cricket. If we can have a sizable population watching all sports, we will become a multi-sport country.

Is it common for athletes to be influenced by feedback and comments?
They shouldn’t do it because if they do, they show their weakness. For example, if you say I’m a bad commentator, will that affect my next appearance? Part of growing up is dealing with criticism when performing. One of the things cricketers learn is to forget the previous ball. If you’re two goals behind, forget it and think that now I have to win 3-0, if I’m 10 points behind in a quiz, I have to think about the next question. When the environment bothers you, when you carry those issues on to the next moment, you weaken yourself. It’s easier said than done.

How is your relationship with the younger players?
You build relationships with people. Among these relationships, some are built on trust and others are transactional. I talk to younger players about not playing for the rewards, not worrying about the riches of the IPL, investing their money wisely, and I sometimes talk to them about these things, not how they should play. I’m not telling them to be careful, or to open their right shoulder a little, or to watch their elbows. I don’t want them to think, ‘What does he know?’

What do you think about the representation of women in sport?
Sport being a man’s business is the biggest nonsense you’ll ever hear. A lot of athletes make the horrible mistake of saying it’s a man thing. I think that’s absolute nonsense. Anyone can play sports and it is one of the few things that everyone can participate in, whether you are a man or a woman, whether you are physically challenged or whether you live in towns or villages. It opens the world, it doesn’t lock people out. More girls play sports. At the last Olympics we had women in boxing, wrestling, archery and track and field. You get more and more medals.

What sports do you do in your free time?
I would like to exercise now, but my body tells a different story. However, when I was younger I enjoyed playing cricket. We grew up on a university campus and played every single sport – we played soccer and hockey, apart from games like hide and seek and pitto with seven stones. Growing up on the Hyderabad campus was the greatest blessing I had as a child and it sparked my love for the sport. I wish I could have played a little more tennis but I couldn’t.

How was your journey with the IPL and why is MS Dhoni still such a popular athlete?
IPL is this monster that does amazing things for our crickets. Not only does it elevate the lives of people who start families, it also makes them better cricketers just from the sheer knowledge of cricket around them. The IPL is the world’s premier gathering of knowledge. But it also buries things, and the moment you start talking about it, you start burying everything else around it. Dhoni was fantastic at the sport, he inspired a lot of people to play too. I hope that the new generation from Moradabad, Bhilwara, Salem, Gulbarga and Hubli will say, “I just don’t want to be the best in India, I want to be the best in the world.”

Ultimate Sports Quiz airs every weekend at 1pm. On the Sony Ten 1

ayeshatabassum@newindianexpress.com
@Aishatax

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