Would Sachin touch a Neta’s feet?

By Swati Chaturvedi | Last Updated: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - 10:47
Swati Chaturvedi

Would a cricketer playing for Team India randomly touch politicians’ feet or lunge to hug them if they condescended to come and watch them play?

The sight of one of the baton bearers rush to prostrate before Mr L K Advani at the opening ceremony and some-other gold-medal winning athletes rush to the sundry politicians including Mr Rahul Gandhi has been to me a disconcerting sight.

And, this among many is one of the prime reasons that cricket is the 90 pound gorilla of the sports in India with the cricketers having the professional pride in their excellence to have the confidence not to bother too much with the politicians.

On the other hand we have enough politicians rushing across the world to follow Team India and cheer for them like a billion other fans.

After the unedifying spectacle of the preparations for the CWG, to see young people who are brimming over with talent and yet feel the need to perform a kowtow to the politician in the stand is a eloquent testimonial to how the sports system grinds them down and demands its pound of flesh.

The poor athlete knows that all perks flow from the venal politician sitting smugly atop the sports pyramid and unless the ritual genuflection is done all door-ways will be locked.

Many would argue that we are an old eastern society and ritual prostration before elders is part of traditional Indian values. But, to me this is an insidious argument. Touching someone’s feet in private is your affair, but when it is done in an arena of sporting excellence where logically the athlete should be the star it smacks of sycophancy – a value we Indians also excel in.

Why should a young athlete fresh of a high with surging endorphin and dopamine at its peak be forced in to a prone position – and I do not mean rifle shooting. Only because it has been drilled into them from a tender age to show deference to the almighty Neta.

Following which the Neta then grandly declares a couple of lakhs prize money and again the spectacle of the Roman circus complete with Nero is evident. More often than not the money does not even get to the hapless sportsperson who then is too timid to complain.

I wonder if this timidity and deference does not affect the athlete’s competitive edge?

Do modern nations, where the concept of due-deference does not exist, produce more competitive sportspeople?

Certainly in education forthright questioning is considered heresy.

It’s high time that politicians let go of sport and consider it a little a more than a photo-opportunity and a milch cow. Athletes should not be considered supplicants.

After this amazing performance by our athletes, let them for once become the center of the sporting universe.

And, then let them shake hands as equals in public with the almighty politician

The sight would thrill me as much as the sight of Sachin in his Ferrari.

First Published: Tuesday, October 12, 2010 - 10:47

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