“I feel shattered”—these three words keep reverberating in my conscience just as a hard-hitting wave keeps pounding on the rock standing on the sea-shore, whenever I reckon about the intricacies of life.
No, this is not an anecdotal statement that I am exaggerating upon. It’s a very short three word statement issued at the time of peak crisis in the career of one of the idols of my life and perhaps also of millions of other people. Cricket Legend Sachin Tendulkar issued the statement , finally breaking his intriguing silence early this year, responding to a highly demeaning yet controversial remark by the then Indian Cricket coach-Greg Chappel who had accused him of ego-centric gaming and self-centred attitude, channelized towards meeting personal ends and targets prioritized over the nation and the game per se.
Immortalized as a self-contained and mature player and person; the whole nation and in fact the entire cricketing fraternity revered Sachin as the one of the most selfless ‘Sportsperson’ in every sense of the word. But, his statement was exemplary evidence to the ever mounting and ever present pressures of being a sportsperson and a National figure! But, he is not the only person who has brought to the forefront the submerged issues that are always overlooked in the glamour and shine of these mass- affecting-professions. Life presents its panoramic hues in different manifestations all through, for us to come to terms with the varying disparate reality and shed off the myopic view that we have harboured all through. All through our childhood and even adolescence, we internalise the spirit of sports, and look up to the sportsmen as idols. Growing up, watching our idols perform persistently well and always put up a happy countenance and garbing their tensions and anxieties; it presents the picture to our oblivious souls painted in such a rosy hue that we consider life to be ‘picture perfect’ for these people. Fame, glory, admirers and success—all kiss the feet of our revered and glorified players in all their essentiality.
But, the omnipresent rigor of the field is highlighted only when we see these larger than life-figures also displaying their vulnerable yet not frail side of being a human. It’s not only Indian cricket that suffers under the excruciating pressures of masses and living up to the expectations of the people; burdened by their self-expectations. There have been varied instances of players of great repute breaking up under the monumental pressures from the various fronts associated. One of the most haunting examples of globally remembered; though not in the best memories, yet something that can’t be erased is the suicide attempt by the magnificently successful tennis player Bjorn Borg. His was the apt example of the succumbing of a human being under the enormous demands that being a Sportsperson put on him.
Emotions run high; and all the frenzied reactions are called for when we pronounce the name of a player. It could be termed ‘Chauvinism’ on the part of the extremely devoted citizens of a nation, or their great love for the game and their desire to see the nation bask in the glory of the game. The enigma of the fever and the fervor is enough to drive hordes of people for setting huge implicit targets and mountainous goals to implicitly achieve. Stress in sports has been indiscriminately tied up with a huge amount of personal sacrifice and protracted practice hours thereby eschewing the festivities and family life. It’s a profession that asks always asks the players to put themselves on the last row. Matches and tournaments that are a reason to rejoice for us during the festivities are also the causatives of our players’ toiling hard to set the flag of their nation soaring high.
I don’t like to be scolded by my editor or teacher or even parents when I fail in any of my assignments! We all have the same amount of frustrations on encountering failures coupled up with being answerable to seniors or parents. But, this attribution of the source goes completely out of question when it comes to sportspersons. Never does any player deliberately aim against VICTORY. But, even after putting in the most diligent efforts, their loss always entails being answerable to the executive body, fans and the most glossy naggers—MEDIA. Even when the most strongest of feelings need to be vented out; need to be articulated in a ‘socially acceptable’ fashion in the media. Always sitting on the edge of the seat, and being the cynosure for the media people and the Nation in its entirety; our sportsperson are denied and debarred (implicitly at least) from having a ‘personal life’.
Whatever little I have known of sports, it always gave me the impression that it’s a very challenging and demanding field. It’s said that success is all about 99% perspiration and 1%inspiration. And, it’s also very widely believed that power and responsibilities are the two sides of the same coin. I am not spelling out phrases and trying to build a connecting link. But, these two statements bring out the entire truth about the life of a Sportsperson. Perseverance is a virtue for a sportsperson. Time and again, history has been the testimony to instances when some player has revivified his past glory with a ‘Phenomenal comeback’. The career of a sportsperson is summed up in the following saying—”when a sportsperson starts his career, people say that a STAR is born. When he reaches a lower position in due course, sailing through the highs and inevitable lows—people term him as a one-time wonder. When he finally is able to strike back with all his force and might, people say that the STAR is shining again. That is all about the turbulent life history of a player.” However it’s true that only a true STAR can gleam through all the hard, rocky and turbulent times.