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Sight Screen

Friday, July 01, 2005

Iconoclasm

In his column in the Indian Express, Harsha Bhogle weighs in on the Shane Warne affair -- the subtext here is that celebrating a sportsman for his on field accomplishment, investing him with a laundry list of godly virtues, then being shocked when he takes off his shoes and you find clay feet, is quite another thing altogether.
A passage from Harsha's column is worth quoting:
Cut off from the real world, increasingly strangled by the poverty of this company that only whispers nice things into their ears, sportsmen can easily lose focus. The great Michael Jordan thought he could play baseball, the Williams sisters got sucked into walking the ramp and designing jewellery. For every success story in Indian cricket, there is an example of someone who lost focus, who mistook the perks for the job.

It cuts both ways. Guy comes along who can hit the ball well, or hurl it well, or kick it well -- and we cluster around with aartis and flowers.
You get this all the time. 'Have you met XYZ player?' 'Yes.' 'Isn't he cuuuuute?... He is such a gentleman... He is so intelligent... I admire his character...'
Um, no, he is a damn good batsman, or bowler, or whatever. Period. And that is all he has to be -- sainthood is for Mother Teresa.
We insist, though, on canonising our favorite player. And next thing you know, said player actually buys into his halo, and gets to believing his reserved seat is god's footstool.
And that has him kicking over the traces -- after all, if you are god or the next best thing, surely you are allowed a certain license?
There's a case to be made, surely, for appreciating sporting -- indeed, any -- achievement, without necessarily worshipping the achiever as an all round role model?

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