Well, yes we all do.
And we are all outraged that Maria Sharapova does not know who Sachin Tendulkar is. (Well not all of us, but certainly enough of us to make the incident a very big deal). http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2014/jul/03/who-is-maria-sharapova-sachin-tendulkar
Before Sachin fans get mad, let me be absolutely clear. I LOVE Sachin. He is the Kohinoor Diamond of our sporting consciousness. If my son/daughter ever studies for IIT-JEE they will have a poster of Sachin on their wall, to symbolize the greatness of the human spirit, and what one man can achieve if he sets his mind to it..and so on.
But today’s post is about something else. It is about how much we (you and me) know about our sporting heritage. Writing this blog-post has been a difficult exercise because it is genuinely a subject I am very ignorant of.
Yes, I watch sports now and then, and I know the important cricket players. But I am one of the ignorant people this blog is addressed to. So those of you who are better informed than me, bear with me. I welcome any corrections on facts, although I have tried to be as accurate as possible. But hopefully this post will generate the kind of introspection I want it to.
The newspaper article that set of this train of thought was about a girl called Sita Sahu. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Olympics-medal-winner-now-a-gol-gappa-seller/articleshow/19469399.cms. She is a sportsperson who won two bronze medals in the Athens Special Olympics in 2011. She now helps her mother sell gol-gappas in a Ghetto settlement (at least when the times article was written). So the question I asked my self was.
Do you know who Sita Sahu is?
In fact it made me realize that I know very little about the sporting heritage of my country, and from what I know, a lot of people are equally ignorant. This gave rise to a few questions I would like to ask you, dear reader.
Do you know who Sunil Chettri is?
He is the captain of the Indian National Football team. He is a striker who currently plays for the Bangalore FC and has received several honors including being named the AIFF player of the year (2007, 2011,2013), the Nehru Cup Top Scorer and the AFC Challenge Cup Most Valuable Player of 2008.. (This is all wikipedia by the way. I would love it if my better informed readers would suggest books for me to read).
Do you know who Mithali Raj is?
She is the captain of the Indian Women’s Cricket team. She is an Arjuna award recipient, and has led her team very successfully to a World Cup final in 2005 as well as to the first ever Test Series victory in 2006, in England.
Do you know that the Indian National Hockey Team (Men) has won 11 Olympic medals in all, before its down-slide began!
Not only that, they won the Silver Medal in the Asia Cup in 2013, and a Bronze in the Asian Games held in China in 2010. Given the lack of endorsements, the scant viewership, and lack of a television hype, it is a big deal that they have still not lost their motivation.
Do you know Homi Motivala?
He is an Indian sports person in Yachting and an Arjuna award recipient. He and P. K Garg were world champions in the enterprise class of yachting in 1993.
Who is captain Hawa Singh?
He is an outstanding Indian heavyweight boxer who towered over the Asian boxing scene for a decade. he won the Gold Medal in two consecutive editions of the Asian games in 1966 and 1970, a very impressive feat.
These are all giants, and all of them have represented India and done it proud. So then I begin to wonder why most of us don’t know these sportspersons who are outstanding in their fields. Perhaps, in India, we don’t care much for sport, we care more for stardom and the glamor that follows sport. This might explain why the marriage of cricket and Bollywood in India is so strong.
I am not asking people to stop loving Sachin or be annoyed at someone who does not know him. However, we need to remember that we are all Maria Sharapovas in our own unique way, and its worse because it is our own country we are talking about.
That is all for today. Cheers!