‘Beware the Ides of March’ – A Wikipedia reference will yield this – In the Roman calendar,
the Ides of March was a term used to denote 15 March. The term is still used in a colloquial
sense for centuries afterwards to denote the middle of the month. In modern times, the term is
best known because of Julius Caesar assassination on the Ides of March in 44 BC. The term
has come to be used as a metaphor for impending doom.
The Ides of March for us began with dismal playing performance and finally the early exit of the
Indian cricket team from the World Cup. A mob mentality was reflected in our newspapers
when tremendous public ire came to the fore. On the day of Gudi Padwa or Ugadi, a daily
newspaper in Mumbai showed women in traditional Maharashtrian ceremonial attire wielding
cricket bats, a grin on faces, with a headline that read ‘we will beat you up…we can play
The burning of effigies, black humour sms texts and derogatory internet images, all point to
the rising of ‘Wotan’ an ancient God of storm and frenzy and dual musings. Carl Jung wrote of
in his ‘Essays on Contemporary Events’ referring to the Germanic literature that gave birth to
Wotan that ‘Wotan is the unleasher of passions and the lust of battle. Wotan symbolizes the
mass psychology in the collective consciousness of a people that shows up ‘primitivity, violence
and cruelty’. Carl Jung studied contemporary events that led to the rise of Nazism. It is what
erupts in us when negative passions run high. We have seen the cascading situations that went
totally out of hand in Mumbai and in Gujarat not many years ago. A multitude of reasons can be
attributed to our failure with no one above blame, but importantly media can play a very
critical role in lending voice and expression to fury. A picture is worth a thousand words, and
what images did we see and what headlines did we read?
We were aware of the impending doom in the World Cup. Every channel and publication worth
its salt waxed eloquent about the talents or lack thereof our individual players. This was
juxtaposed with writings on our dismal team dynamic, the politicization of the selection
process, absentee leadership and a flagrant flouting of the authority and respect for the coach.
In each of these and more lay the seeds of our failure. Passions run high in cricket and its fans
along with the ability to morph unendingly, depending on whether we win or lose. Cricket is
‘religion’, ‘binder of the Indian fabric’, ‘an anthem’, ‘a symbol of national pride’ when we
anticipate winning, and when we lose, it transforms into a ‘just a game’ and at worst, ‘a
medium for advertising and endorsements’, along with the baying for the blood of our players
whom we want to flay. Public perception swings between two dualities of the players being
either gods to be adored or demons to be hated and despised. The reality is that they are
human, somewhere in between.
The Ides of March brought doom also in the tragic and shocking form of Bob Woolmer’s death.
The mystery shrouding the event, the needle of suspicion that left a whole team tainted stands
testimony to the fact that cricket is a big stakes game. The price to be paid could be life. Many
players in tern will face humiliation, even ostracism, a need to explain and justify to
themselves and to people around them, and will need to cope, and recover to play again.
As researchers we observe and interact with human subjects in their socio-cultural milieu. We
study words and language, behaviour, and body language, with the intent to unearth emotions.
Some times the subject is aware of and shares, at others she is aware of her emotions but
cannot share them, and at other times she is unaware and unconsciously of these emotions that
are deep down in the realm of the unconscious. In a democratic culture, popular media is both
a reflection as well as a mirror. It creates and refines our sensibilities and plays a role in
defining our character as a people, especially in case of young people whose world view is
getting formed. A study of media is a tool to unlock our cultural consciousness as well as of our
It will be interesting to study how other nations have coped with failures and losses where a
game is accorded status of religion. Being a player of the game brings riches, adulation and
fame. Is there a preparation for losing? What is the possibility of face saving that the self
allows itself? What is the sense of personal responsibility and team responsibility that the loser
feels? Are there lessons we can learn as a people, as a business, as a team, and as individuals,
of what not to be and what not to do? Does failure split and success bind? Do we as a people
want only to identify with winning and are our coping mechanisms for failure only about vicious
anger and its imbalanced and faulty expression? Can we revisit ourselves with renewed hope
and in the words of Theodore Roosevelt ‘Dare Mighty Things’?