Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sports in USA

Came out of India when the IPL series was in its decisive phase. followed the last few matches on cricinfo. The semi-finals were damp squibs, but the final was total paisa-vasool(value for money), sorely missed watching it on TV.
The sports scene out here in the US was also impressive with the NBA conference finals going on and the local team Detroit Pistons in the fray, watched a couple of matches on TV with few second-generation Indian teenagers who are staying here in Michigan, it was fun to see their passion for the game. Unfortunately Detroit lost to Boston 4-2 in the series. Had planned to watch the finals keenly between LA Lakers and Boston Celtics but couldn't. Deservedly the Celtics won.

Also managed to catch the much anticipated dream French Open final, but Nadal made it look so lop-sided, he played a fabulous game to again thwart the greatest player in the world. My advice to Roger is to not dwell on it too much, Rafa was better on the day. Roger's chance will come again.

Other main sporting event was the Stanley Cup finals, it was the first time that I watched it. My only ice hockey viewing prior to this was watching a few Winter Olympic matches in the 90s. I was fascinated by the game then, played at such a breathtaking speed, non-stop action, and with minimal rules. Unfortunately on Indian TV did not get to view it much. then when i went to Canada in 2006, I saw what a big sport it was, with sports shops stocked with Hockey accessories and merchandise.
So this time it was a treat to watch the best ice-hockey in the world, and to top it the local team Detroit Red Wings was playing the finals, one could see numerous cars on the road flying the flag of the red wings, Detroit is also known as HockeyTown, as it has one of the richest Ice Hockey tradition in the country, the final was with the Pittsburg Penguins, liked the name. One could almost imagine penguins walking in the middle of the cold ice rink, the name of their arena was even better Igloo.

Detroit won a thrilling series of matches 4-2 to be crowned the winners. There was a massive parade organized for the team, it took place right below my office in downtown Detroit, just caught glimpses of it.

What I gather from my experiences is that the most popular sport out here is American Football, so I am also awaiting that season expectantly, supposed to start in Sept. Let us see what the fuss is all about and whether it even compares to my favourite sport the real football(i.e. soccer), where they actually kick the ball rather than mostly throwing or carrying it around.


Life has taken a nine and a half hour phase shift, as I now find myself in Detroit for the next 8 months. Weather wise the timing was perfect having avoided the inconvenience of monsoons in Bombay and getting the best possible climate here with the onset of summer in this notoriously cold part of US.
Hope I could have said the same about the Economic or Political climate out here. Michigan has been the worst hit in this recession in the USA; in fact it was a laggard in most of the economic indicators for a long time, owing to the heavy dependence on the chronically under-performing US auto industry. It is a part of the so called "rust belt" of the US. One can see signs of a economy in depression almost everywhere, starting from empty roads (except maybe during rush hours), houses up For Sale signs, unusually high number of garage and other distress sales, half-empty malls closing down, heavy discounts on various goods, people talking about lack of jobs, low rents etc. Inflation is also at a high with high gas and food prices. A classic example of Stagflation.

Downtown Detroit the business capital of Michigan is also quite sparse compared to many other similar cities in the US. Though that cannot be solely attributed to economic reasons, but also due to other socio-political reasons. Phenomenons such as ghettoizing of Afro-Americans (being politically correct), white-flight, high operating costs and lack of a specially skilled workforce are some of the factors that have inhibited new investments in the state.
Politically it has been a roller-coaster ride for Americans as the electorate has become highly polarized on race, gender and class. The coming few moths will be quite charged politically, so it will be a good experience to observe the American Presidential elections with a ringside view.

Overall personally the last one month has been an eventful period, with lots of things happening mostly good some not so good. One can find somemore details on my wife Meghna's blog.