Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Bow Down, Steeler Nation

All hail the Cricket Diaspora. Fans of cricket may be a small minority where you live, but the sum of all those small followings in the United States make up a large community of South Asian expatriates who share their fervor online. In sports, members of the diaspora are united and a global identity emerges:

Cricket for South Asians across the world provides a space where all differences are overcome.

The assertion of an Indian or Bangladeshi identity globally, expression of cultural nationalism or feeling of emotional commonality are all rooted in cricket.

Interestingly, a poll conducted by a national daily in India a couple of years ago on the attitudes of the Indian youth found that more than 50% of the respondents, given a chance, would live in some other country. This figure might have been higher for Bangladesh given the continuing political and economic instability in the country.

Yet all of these expatriates would inevitably stay up nights in the US to watch their country play in England and participate in detailed analyses of their team's strengths and weaknesses in countless internet chat rooms.

I understand that the Steeler Nation is a subset of Pittsburgh expatriates, but the team is the centerpiece of the Burgh Diaspora's identity. I've wavered on the importance of a football team to networking the people who might invest in Pittsburgh, but I figure the game of cricket is of great interest to many innovators who were born in India.

I have firsthand experience with academics from Pakistan who are crazy about cricket. Two members of the Pakistani Diaspora helped me to appreciate the game while I was in London during the World Cup. Thanks to them, I know who Wasim Akram is and I enjoyed partying with the New Zealand fans in Cardiff when their team won a World Cup match.

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