2008 has been a great year for nice men in sports.
Anand’s world championship win is an emphatic victory for all the nice men in sports, and in life,in general. The power of non-violence is extending beyond the political arena to all spheres of life. Anand is the Gandhi of chess, the non-violent but efficient winner in a sport renowned for ugly spats across and off the board, more than on the board. The greatness of this man, lies in his assertion after this victory, that the ‘match format’ is not the superior format but he was desparate to win in this format so that he gains the moral right to make this assertion. (I had written about the unfairness of the match format and the challenge process earlier, in an unrelated article).
Anand is a pioneer-gentleman in chess but he has parallels in other sports.
Federer is a smiling assasin, but still the most perfect tennis player I have seen. Despite a few heartbreaking losses, he had his great moments this year. In a modern game of violent hitters of the ball, Federer artistically caresses the ball, with no less power.
Sachin, the boyish champion, has reached the highest landmarks this year and has even revealed newer strengths. Tendulkar’s only blemish in his long career has been his loyalty to his errant teammate in the so-called race row ( பொய்மையும் வாய்மை யிடத்த புரைதீர்ந்த நன்மை பயக்கு மெனின்? – As Thiruvalluvar said, can a lie be equivalent to truth, if it is benefecial to all?).
Laxman, the perfect gentleman-cricketer with lazy elegance and wrists of an artist, is the strange satyagrahi who chooses to march only against the champions.
Abhinav Bindra is the rich man’s Gandhi with a gun and the Rama of Kamban. After winning the first-ever individual gold medal for India there was no thumping of hands, no chest-bumping, no waving of flag or shirt, no shout of relief; just a reluctant smile – as if, to mark the end of a regular day at office!
If non-violence can be employed in Sport, where winning is everything, can it not be deployed everywhere else in life where there need not be any losers.