Abhinav Bindra and the defeat in SriLanka

Yesterday evening as I switched on the television to watch the evening newscast, I caught the sports news on one of the leading satellite channels.

The channel was going ga ga over Abhinav Bindra who had earlier in the day created history by becoming the first Indian to win a gold medal at the ongoing Beijing Olympics in the men’s 10 m air rifle event. Abhinav is the first Indian gold medallist in the Olympics in an individual sport. The channels were busy introducing us to his coach, telecasting comments from his sister, friends, teachers and other folks who have contributed to his success. One couldn’t help but feel pride in Abhinav’s achievement.    

Vey soon the telecast moved on to the report on the series defeat of the Indian Cricket Team in Sri Lanka. The coverage was shockingly vicious (I wish there was a better word to describe it). The seniormost Indian players who amongst themselves would have served the nation in more than 600 tests were roundly abused by the anchor. He called them names, used the word ‘gunahgar’ ! (criminal in Urdu).

The rogue cast in this gallery included the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Saurav Ganguly and Anil Kumble the skipper !

I could not help but wonder at the injustice of this all. Does failure in one series makes Sachin Tendulkar or any of these iconic players any less accomplished than they are? Can one bad series erase their sterling achievements in last so many years? In a country starved of sporting icons haven’t they stood out as national heros for more than a decade? Is this how we should treat these gentlemen who are acknowledged the world over as great sportsmen?

I believe that the anchor of this program needs to learn the journalistic requirement of balance and proportion in his reporting. To hear him brand these greats as some sort of pariahs (he at one time insinuated that some of these greats were failing deliberately, no reason was ascribed for this off the cuff remark) is nauseating.

We need better reporting and we need better anchors.

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