Indian sport is on the rise – that is what the eternal optimist thinks taking pride in the face that our cricket team is going gang busters, a lesser known pair together with a significant other won a grand slam and we just closed a historic year when we won 4 medals in the Olympics. Add to the list that Vishwanathan Anand won the world championship of chess and Saina made some rapid progress in badminton and there’s every heart swelling with pride.
Every time an Indian wins anything significant in the world stage, they come back to a hero’s reception. Be it the much talked out T20 celebrations that got Mumbai to a grinding halt or even the under-19 cricket champs that got an already gridlocked Bangalore to a literal freeze, we go to extremes to celebrate these wins. The story is not so different with other sports, albeit, the scale may be significantly different. That said, the celebrations are on overdrive. From State governments offering cash rewards to land and trophies being a given in a situation like this to the neighboring states suddenly waking up to say me too and throwing in a few lakhs of cash as rewards, it all happens. The “celebrity” lives life on the fast lane enjoying the newly acquired status.
While the pomp and celebrations last for a few weeks (sometimes a few months), it dies a slow death and so to, our sportsmen/women. Their rare victory invariably is a flash in the pan and we folks seem to pick the flash up like a shining beacon and make so much ado about it.
When was the last time that someone went on to repeat their so called “ feats” ? I can’t think of one in recent memory. There may be an odd exception that I am missing, but the reality is that we lack consistency when it comes to this.
A classic case is Sania Mirza. Touted as the next best thing that ever happened to Indian tennis, she broke into the top 50. We were gaga over her feat and laid out the red carpet. The sponsors queued up to have her signed; she was the face of “Lotto” and “Head”.
How can one forget the posters that donned the fuel stations of the company that she endorsed ? A couple of years down the line, if you look back at her accomplishments, you will all but draw a blank expression apart from the most recent “luck by chance” win down under. Her recent accomplishment was recognized with a felicitation ceremony by her state Chief Minister with promises of more to come! (I truly wish these are sporting accomplishments)
Is this the way the world celebrates? I pause to wonder…
I happen to be travelling at this time and came across a paper ad in the states – simple one page ad with pictures of the winners, a line detailing the feat, just so that you know, they are talking about a pair of sisters who’ve won nearly 7 grand slam titles together, a pair of brothers who have won 8 and an individual who won 7-8, I don’t recall the exact number. Wow – these are huge accomplishment by any stretch of imagination and guess what the reward is limited to? A one page color print recognition from their friends at the USTA. That is it. I was speaking to a few of my colleagues here and checked if this was indeed the case and they said, “Yes, what more do they want”? I was so glad that he didn’t ask me how we would do it back home. Lucky that I was saved of the embarrassment, I quickly started talking about the weather!
In a country of a billion people, there is a ton of potential. Being one of the world’s largest countries in terms of population, we don’t probably have the awards / medals and whatever else you have to justify being the size that we are. A quick look at neighboring China will give us a huge complex – they truly live to their size.
While there are issues plaguing the infrastructure, the so called bright ones who make it to the top need to master the art of consistency
Winning once in a light year and going over the moon celebrating it is definitely not on!
Image Credit: Bfick