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Cover And Catalog Copy For ‘The Evolution of a Cricket Fan: My Shapeshifting Journey’

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/10/2020 - 4:00am in

The good folks at Temple University Press have a cover design for my forthcoming book, ‘The Evolution of a Cricket Fan: My Shapeshifting Journey.’

Here is the catalog copy for the book:

An autobiographical account of a cricket lover’s journey across nations and identities

The Evolution of a Cricket Fan: A Shapeshifting Journey

Samir Chopra is an immigrant, a “voluntary exile,” who discovers he can tell the story of his life through cricket, a game that has long been a presence—really, an obsession—in his life, and in so doing, reveals how his changing views on the sport mirror his journey of self-discovery. In The Evolution of a Cricket Fan, Chopra is thus able to reflect on his changing perceptions of self, and of the nations and cultures that have shaped his identity, politics, displacement, and fandom.

Chopra’s passion for the sport began as a child, when he rooted for Pakistan and against his native India. When he migrated, he became a fan of the Indian team that gave him a sense of home among the various cultures he encountered in North America and Australia. This “shapeshifting” exposes the rift between the old and the new world, which Chopra acknowledges is, “Cricket’s greatest modern crisis.” But it also illuminates the identity dilemmas of post-colonial immigrants in the Indian diaspora.

Chopra’s thoughts about the sport and its global influence are not those of a player. He provides access to the “inner world” of the global cricket fan navigating the world that colonial empire wrought and cricket continues to connect and animate, observing that the Indian cricket team carries many burdens—not only must they win cricket matches, but their style of play must generate a pride that assuages generations of wounds inflicted by history. And Chopra must navigate where he stands in that history.

The Evolution of a Cricket Fan shows Chopra’s own wins and losses as his life takes new directions and his fandom changes allegiances.

Pandemic Playgrounds

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 02/10/2020 - 6:38am in



When the NBA shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, I began driving around New Orleans, where I teach English at Tulane, photographing the city’s basketball courts at night. I set off around midnight through the deserted streets, at first to familiar places and then to spots more obscure. I didn’t bring a […]

Downsizing the competition: What higher-education managers might learn from the AFLW

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 27/08/2020 - 3:00am in

In an interview in May on the ABC’s Saturday Extra, Monash University Vice Chancellor Margaret Gardner used the global rankings of Australian universities to argue the case for the sector:

We have more top one hundred universities—that is, universities who are seen as the top quality in the world—than Germany, than France, than Canada, than China… Only the UK has just slightly more than us and they are a much bigger country with more universities. And the United States, of course, which is bigger again.

The gambit might be recognised as very Australian. Australians are great at competition. It is not that they are naturally endowed with extraordinary capacities. It is rather that they excel at mastering the form of competition—analysing what needs to be done to succeed and developing strategies accordingly.

The most obvious example is sport, where Australia consistently competes at a level well above the average for countries of comparable size, even accounting for relative wealth. To take the current standings, it is number one internationally in rugby league and men’s field hockey, number two in men’s and women’s cricket, and in the top three in women’s basketball. It boasts three of the world’s top twenty-five golfers.

But university rankings are another arena of national achievement. As Business Insider reported recently, Australian universities have again ‘batted above their average’ this year, with five institutions (ANU, Sydney, Melbourne, UNSW and Queensland) in the global top fifty. Standings across the top one hundred world universities put Australia in a similar league to its performance in sport.

These outcomes are no accident. They are the result of deliberate strategies and institutional innovations. In sport, many successes are owed, for example, to the Australian Institute of Sport, established by the Commonwealth in the wake of the humiliating medal tally at the Montreal Olympics in 1972. In the university rankings, they can be attributed to a formidable array of audit processes, funding schemes and institutional incentives put in place by university managers since the early 2000s.

There is much to be gained from comparisons between different fields of competition. As sociologist Norbert Elias pointed out, they often have common origins. In Quest for Excitement—co-written with Eric Dunning—Elias drew attention, for example, to basic homologies between modern sport and parliamentary democracy. Both fields emerged in England in the seventeenth century. Both give a certain licence to bellicose passions, while also curbing them just at the point where they threaten to become destructive.

One can exert oneself vigorously against a competitor on the sporting field; one can abuse a political opponent across the chamber. But one cannot kill them. As Elias makes clear, the idea of competition assumes a rule-based order—in sport, the ‘code’—and requires some assurance that participants start out on an equal footing. If a team of adults flattens kids on a rugby pitch, as in a classic Monty Python skit, it is not a competition but simply a show of force.

To understand the present, however, we need also to consider transformations in forms of competition that have occurred since the 1980s. The period has seen a generalisation of the idea of competition to many new fields. Universities have come to see each other as ‘competitors’ in a sense that they never previously did. But more important has been a rationalisation of competition that has shifted it from what might once have been seen as an art to a science.

The tendency is one that could be seen as always latent in competition as a social form. As political theorist William Davies points out, there is a contradiction at the heart of the idea of competition. While the rules of competition are designed to ensure that outcomes are not determined in advance, the competitors themselves are expected to do everything in their power precisely to determine an outcome—the outcome, that is, in which they win.

As Davies argues, the past forty years have seen an intensification of this contradiction. Enormous resources have been invested by, or on behalf of, competitors to tilt the odds in their favour. The major arena here, of course, has been business, where a relentless pursuit of ‘competitive advantage’ threatens constantly to destroy the very principle of competition itself.

But it can also be seen in sport and universities, both of which have seen a massive growth of competitive performance development—of specialist coaches, analysts, high-performance sports scientists, psychologists, strength and conditioning trainers; of marketing departments, student recruitment agents, research grant development teams, business systems developers and human resource business partners. The growth of these fields has been associated in both cases with a ballooning management stratum.

Where does this leave us in hard times?

One answer is that suggested by a meme widely shared by higher-education workers on social media. It shows a road digger, labelled ‘Faculty’, repairing a drain. Watching on is a bevy of managers: ‘Director, Human Resources’, ‘VP, Research Innovation and Economic Development’, ‘Director, Innovation Management’ etc. ‘Due to cutbacks’, reads the caption, ‘we will need to reduce the number of Faculty’.

The reality, however, is that much of the fat within competitive organisations over the next few years will be found in support and management roles. This is already clear in the case of sport. The Australian Football League (AFL), for example, has directed clubs to halve their football departments, with millions being shaved from the salary cap and deep cuts in areas such as recruitment and development coaching. It is safe to say that the only jobs that cannot be cut are those of the players.

The downsizing of what might be termed ‘competitive auxiliaries’ may often involve personal tragedy. Those who resent the growth of these auxiliaries in recent years should remember that those who fill these roles are people too. For the principle of competition, however, a correction may, paradoxically, have an upside.

One of the revelations in Australian Rules football over the last few years has been the launch of the women’s competition, the AFLW. With a fraction of the amount spent on the men’s game, it has gained a following far beyond initial expectations.

Part of this interest can be attributed to a correction to the masculinism of mainstream sport. But part too has been because the AFLW has shown us a version of footy that reminds us of what it once was. The competitive format is less tilted to a grim-faced science of ‘winning’ and more to the other potential that competition has had since the Greeks—as a way of calling forth and celebrating human achievement.

Might the loss of this potential explain an alienation from many of our mainstream institutions? Might it explain why even the staff of our most successful universities do not feel more thrilled when it is announced that their institution has again climbed the rankings? And if insiders feel this way, how can we expect the competition to excite the wider public? The AFL may have learnt a thing or two from the AFLW in responding to the COVID crisis. Reducing the machinery of competition may not always be a loss for competition. Is it possible that university managers might learn this lesson too?

Cartoon: Alternatives for college football fans

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 15/08/2020 - 7:50am in

While most people are lamenting the sabotage of the Postal Service and democracy in general, a few simple souls are sad they can’t watch students get CTE this fall.

Goodbye Opiate of the Masses

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 07/08/2020 - 4:50pm in


baseball, Sports

One of the few good things about the COVID-19 lockdown as far as I’m concerned has been the fact that we have concentrated on important issues like police racism and stopped emphasizing things like sports and religion.

Star Trek, Lucifer, AHS & More: BCTV 2020 Influencers Mid-Year Report

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 28/06/2020 - 10:35pm in

So back at the beginning of the year, we published The Bleeding Cool Top 30 TV Series Influencers 2020, a look inside the BCTV "crystal ball" to predict the broadcast, cable, and streaming shows that would have a major influence on our viewing habits as we rolled through 2020 – and beyond. We made some changes […]

The post Star Trek, Lucifer, AHS & More: BCTV 2020 Influencers Mid-Year Report appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

Doctor Who, Lucifer, Randy Orton, Alienist & More: BCTV Sunday Slices

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 22/06/2020 - 2:05am in

Three weeks in a row and BCTV Sunday Slices is already our longest and most meaningful relationship (make of that what you will). Just like how things went down the past two weeks, this weekly little slice of Heaven is where I highlight some of Bleeding Cool's television coverage from the past week while bestowing […]

The post Doctor Who, Lucifer, Randy Orton, Alienist & More: BCTV Sunday Slices appeared first on Bleeding Cool News And Rumors.

I Should Have Known!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 08/02/2020 - 5:13am in


Sports, War

Over the course of several meetings in 2017 and 2018, I taught Kobe and his crew a smattering of ancient history. I had known about him for many years—since he first came to the Lakers. Among my earliest memories of shame comes from his first or second season: I thought that since his team-mate Shaquille O’Neill was clearly somehow Irish, Kobe, too, must be Irish, and so I referred to him (in front of friends, and friends’ parents) as Kobe O’Bryant. I was maybe 8; the memory still stings.