Voices Wednesday, June 18, 2014 - 05:30
Alankrita Anand| The News Minute| June 14, 2018| 8.00 pm IST Every night when Rahul Kanwal takes Centre Stage at 9pm, the nation perhaps hopes to know what it does not get to know elsewhere. On June 12th, the nation might have wanted to hear what ‘experts’ had to say about the first session of the 16th Lok Sabha, more about the law and order in UP or even the crisis in Iraq. And if we were indeed so concerned about the FIFA World Cup, the news channels could have debated the protests in Brazil (since WAGS can wait till Sports Quarter). Primetime debates do not need to have entertainment related topics; they are usually as entertaining as they come.  But on Headlines Today on June 12th, Kanwal took the expert opinions of specialists and professionals and even audiences and dissected an issue crucial to the World Cup- Sex night before match bad for players? So crucial it was that it involved a sports psychiatrist, a sports scientist, a coach, a trainer and an academic. And each of them expressed their opinions on how sex, or the lack of it, impacts a player’s performance. All along, the players were warming up in Brazil, not once disclosing to the world the secrets of their success. The experts did the job. This is not to discredit the experts of their areas of specialization, but to question the relevance of the debate on primetime. In Kanwal’s words, this was a ‘massive debate’ with regard to the World Cup. Coaches from Brazil and Mexico had expressed their displeasure over players performing ‘bedroom acrobatics’ and ‘horizontal samba’. Brazil and Mexico are only two of the many countries who have imposed a ban on sex during the tournament. Clearly, it is an important concern. The question is- for whom? For the players, the teams, their managers, yes. And while a team’s performance may be of great concern to its ardent fans as well, was this massive enough to make it our 9 o’clock debate?  Shyamal Vallabhjee spoke about the lack of scientific proof on the matter; Vaibhav Agashe emphatically talked about sex being a distraction and not just an act. The latter somewhat echoed Pele’s concern that the activities of partying and soliciting generally associated with a festive environment are problematic. More mellowed opinions came out defending emotional needs of the players while Boria Majumdar made it a point to assert that his academic research had convinced himthat sex during a tournament had detrimental effects. Kanwal also went through a little analysis of the performance of teams that were allowed to have sex vis-à-vis those that weren’t. Towards the latter half of the debate, the framing of the question had changed- is the debate around sex a cultural issue, a national issue or a player-centric or team-by-team issue. Why do we need to debate which cultures and players sex matter to and why? Why do we also need to call an audience opinion poll a ‘Sentiment Analysis’? And this was not the only debate. On a morning run of Sports Quarter the previous day, Shivani Gupta had walked her viewers through the different angles of this ‘heated debate’. Headlines Today, through 10th-12th June (and maybe even later), at different peak hours, ran their special FIFA WC feature pitying that the world will not get to see these glamorous WAGS. It may be a concern and can stay on Sports Quarter till some stunning victories take over. But to debate the linkages between testosterone and frustration and testosterone and aggression on the 9pm show is unnecessary, especially when the panel itself decides that the question is open-ended, if not inconclusive.

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