Last week media outlets across India splashed the pictures of Sachin Tendulkar along with other sporting icons like David Beckham at the Royal Box at Wimbledon and considering the fact that a seat in the Royal Box is ‘by invitation only’ made it an even more coverage worthy event.
However, the underlying pride in the whole thing among Indian cricket fans and Sachin Tendulkar fans in particular was because it proved that the Master Blaster is not only a cricketing icon but a global sports icon who got invited to the biggest tennis championship in the world.
Incidentally he was present at a game in which this year’s French Open champion and the world’s pre eminent women’s tennis player Maria Sharapova was playing.
The whole occasion turned sour for some Indian cricket fans when Sharapova innocently replied that she was not aware of who Sachin Tendulkar is on being asked by an interviewer as to whether she had ever watched Sachin play and to rub more salt into the wounds she went on to say that she was aware of David Beckham.
When the transcripts of that interview emerged on Indian news outlets, not many people I know gave it any thought but that was not the situation for long. Yesterday social media websites were awash with vile abuse posted by Sachin ‘fans’ on the official social media accounts of Maria Sharapova and the whole thing was nothing short of an embarrassment for most fair minded Indians.
The Rationale Behind the Madness
Sachin Tendulkar is a cricketing icon who took the craft of batsmanship to new heights and is possibly the biggest cricket star in the last 50 years, however it needs to be mentioned that cricket as such is not a global game and the fact that Sharapova, who grew up in Russia, did not know him is not something that is exactly unreasonable. The Indian fans who were up in arms on social media are the perfect examples of the modern internet term of the ‘keyboard warrior’ and that was in full show yesterday as the spammed Sharapova’s social media pages with pathetic comments that made it look as if she had committed blasphemy.
The ten to twenty profiles that I checked appeared to be those of people who were no more than 20 years old and hence the juvenile reaction that followed, however there is a deep lying reason why they reacted in such a fashion.
Most of these people have grown up on a daily diet of learning how Indians are cutting billion dollar deals all over the world and how the country is on the verge of becoming a super power, which is why it came as a shock to their system that a Russian tennis player, who grew up in the US since the age of 14, was unaware of one of the few truly outstanding Indian sporting icons.
However, it is not her fault that she is not aware of Sachin Tendulkar since she is perhaps not even interested in the game and the fact that she knows Beckham is perhaps due to the fact that Football is a far more popular game. Well, perhaps the online trolls are simply too foolish to realize that and believe that Maria Sharapova was lying when she said that she is unaware of Sachin Tendulkar, in order to insult him. That is who foolish some online trolls can be and the fact that they now have the ability to heap abuse on celebrities by way of social media is an unfortunate fallout indeed of the wonderful medium.
The Sachin ‘fans’ should first and foremost learn a bit from the cricketer whom they profess to ‘worship as god’. Sachin himself has always been humble about his achievements and has always conducted himself in a way befitting an icon, however certain sections of his fan base do not only sully his name but also the country’s; through a medium that is global.
Yesterday’s social media backlash did not only make sure that these trolls made a fool of themselves on a global platform (Maria Sharapova has fans from all over the world) but also ended up enhancing the stereotype that Indians can’t take things objectively. Needless to say, it gives a bad name to the real Indian cricket fans as well.
By: Soham Samaddar
Image Source: Sachin Tendulkar
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