The Ten Sporting Things You Can Get In India You Can't Get In China

 By: Chris Devonshire-Ellis
As winter finally throws off its chilly mantle and spring is well and truly sprung, thoughts turn to more outdoor pursuits. And this summer provides an extravaganza in sports, with the 2010 World Cup of Soccer and Commonwealth Games all taking place, let alone the usual plethora of various regional competitions. But once again, in our somewhat tongue in cheek look at China and India, it's time to compare the two. For this weekend, the ten sporting things one can get in India that you can't get in China. Next week we will reverse the situation...

Mini-turbans
Harbhajan SinghDevout Sikh's are amongst the world's most hirsute of men, and many of them can field a decent bat as well. But with the religion banning the cutting of hair, many Sikhs roll it all up in a grand turban, with colors and types often depicting the areas of northwest India they originate from. When faced with cricket balls arriving at 130mph while standing at the wicket, wearing a full on turban when expected to smack sixes all over the ground and run like lightning for singles isn't going to, er, cut it. Hence the evolution of the Patka, or mini turban. Now you don't get too many of those at the Beijing Cricket Club. Patkas are also the primary reason why the Chinese wig making industry, the world's largest, never got many orders from the Punjab.

Blonde cheerleaders
Delicate, demure and very modest, Chinese and Indian girls are simply far too bashful to stand about dancing semi-naked in support for their teams. However, that isn't to say that the red-blooded Indian male doesn't appreciate "a bit of skirt," because he does. So they import them; from Australia mainly, but often under U.S. football cheerleading tutelage. There have been some mutterings of "debauchery" among the more conservative Indian groups, but for sure most of the cameramen following the IPL seem to have fallen in love with a particular girl. The numbers of Indian men attending IPL matches in Mumbai the past two weeks has been eerily equivalent to the numbers of Chinese men visiting karaoke bars in Shanghai, where such booty shaking seems restricted to underground evening venues. There are no such murky goings-on with cheerleaders in India, where it really is all about shimmying that groove thang out in the open in front of a hot blooded, mainly masculine crowd of 20,000 plus.

Commonwealth Games
Oh how pesky that Hong Kong New Territories 100 year lease has proven to be. The 2010 Commonwealth Games are set to commence in Delhi this coming October, that for sure will exclude China. For athletes who can take part, the Commonwealth Games are a useful competitive benchmark for the bigger prize - the summer Olympics, and serve as a two year in-between competition to assess performances against high value rivals. China used to compete, at least while Hong Kong was British. The territory fielded teams from 1934, making a final Commonwealth Games appearance in 1994, three years prior to the handover. Chinese athletes did represent Hong Kong, and in their appearances at the Games Hong Kong won a total of five gold, two silver and ten bronze medals. The golds came in that oh-so colonial sport of lawn bowls, and the others in pistol shooting and badminton. Hong Kong alas will not be present in October, and China has lost its only potential representative. A list of teams past and present who have or will compete in the Commonwealth Games can be found here.

An F1 car
While Shanghai hosts the Formula One Grand Prix each year, and does so on April 16-18, so Delhi will from 2011. However, India has something that China doesn't have right now. A car.

Weird as it seems, China seems content, despite having purchased just about every bankrupt automaker on the planet, to sit back and watch other peoples' cars whizz around and around in F1. India has "Force India," all decked out in the colors of the Indian flag, meaning Indian F1 fans follow the event on TV as it moves around the global circuit. Are they any good? Well, they finished fifth in the last Grand Prix in Malaysia, so they're not too shabby. And when supported with the likes of the cheerleader girls in Delhi next year, who knows what could happen? "Force Geely" doesn't have quite the same ring.

Abhinav BindraOlympic champion rifle shooting
The current Olympic Champion in the 10 meter air rifle shooting event is Abhinav Bindra, from India. In fact, he's the only individual Indian Olympic gold medal winner ever. By contrast, China won 50 more gold medals than India at the last Olympics, but then they were at home. Still, from little acorns, etc etc.

Winning at soccer
It's a bit difficult, this one, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but surprisingly for such close neighbors, China and India haven't crossed each other's paths very often in competitive international soccer. In fact, the only time I can find a match was back in 1964, when India beat Hong Kong 3-1 in the semi-finals of the Asian Cup. Cheung Yiu Kwok put Hong Kong ahead at half time, but India replied with three goals in a match played at Bloomfield Road, Jaffna. India finished runners up to Israel that year, their best ever performance in international soccer. So, from what scant information I can find, it seems that when the two countries do come head to head in soccer, India tends to prevail over Chinese teams. However, those glory days for both nations are well behind them. In the current FIFA rankings, India are 132nd behind mighty Swaziland, Hong Kong lie one place behind the famous Maldives in 140th, while China are 84th, behind the all-conquering soccer giants of Albania. Thank goodness for ping pong. And cricket.
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