Sportsmen around the globe are seen as an emblem of tolerance, co-existence and endurance. That’s why the term ‘sportsman spirit’ – which connotes ‘showing the best character of oneself in the nerve-wrecking hours- is coined from the word Sportsman. Aficionados of different sportsmen cheer and appreciate them, even more, when they see the latter showing the Sportsman spirit on the field. The videos of the sports celebrities giving concessions to their rivals get viral and hit millions of views in no time on the internet.
On the contrary, if some sportsmen are seen grumpy and short-tempered on the field, they are booed by the crowd. In such a case, even their die-hard fans start losing respect and appreciation for their idols, when they see them lose character time and again. A sportsman carried away in response to even the toughest of questions by Journalists is abhorred by the general public. These are called Sportsmen minus Sportsman Spirit.
Government spokespersons trumpet about how much tolerance and mutual co-existence is ubiquitous in Pakistan. Yet, this show of victimizing a Hindu cricketer has reflected the real picture. Sportsmen are expected not to evince any negative behavior towards their opponents, let alone victimize one of their teammates because of his beliefs.
Speak of Sportsmen sans sportsman spirit, and we [Pakistanis] must be the very people who can relate. There’s a background to that reason. Here sports are taken more seriously than they must have been taken. And if our players are pitted against those of our rival countries, we can’t afford to lose. In such nerve-wracking matches, if our boys give a below-par performance, there’s no salvation for them in public. With that kind of pressure, the boys sometimes lose their cool on the field and turn themselves into Sportsmen sans sportsmen spirit –just to win a particular match.
Sometimes, our public expects them to do the things which would unnerve the players from other teams. Just to give an example, sledging [although unethical] a player of the opposite team has always been a common practice in Cricket. Sledging and chest-thumping could be accepted keeping in view the pressure a player faces in the desperation of taking his team to the win. But what cannot be accepted, is discriminating someone based on of one’s religion.
This abomination was exposed a few days ago by one of the cricket stars Shoaib Akhtar in a TV show. He claimed that some players had refused to share the meal with another of his teammate Danish Kaneria because the latter was Hindu by religion. This claim was later corroborated by Kaneria himself in another TV show where he also promised to reveal the names of the characters who mistreated him in his playing days because of his religion. With all the vices our society is plagued with, it seems like only this disgrace was left which we were missing on. Ours are the people who would rant all day on social and electronic media about not to single out someone based on one’s beliefs.
Untiring religious scholars would sweat in taking on the pagan Government of the countries where Muslims (being a minority) are facing heavy-handedness. Just to give a simile, it seems like ‘the pot calling the kettle black’. Government spokespersons trumpet about how much tolerance and mutual co-existence is ubiquitous in Pakistan. Yet, this show of victimizing a Hindu cricketer has reflected the real picture. Sportsmen are expected not to evince any negative behavior towards their opponents, let alone victimize one of their teammates because of his beliefs.
The sad revelation warrants an honest sleuthing by the Pakistan Cricket Board to ferret out the facts of the story. The characters who have been practicing such abhorrence must also be named to keep such incidents from happening again. The practice of name-shaming would also embolden other victims to speak against such sick characters because hiding a wound makes it even worse. It is another thing to give fiery speeches at the world forums, and completely another to put some real efforts in making the country a safe place for minorities to live in. This incident is yet another reminder that before censuring other countries on how minorities are being treated there, it is our home that ought to be put in order first.