(Un)Sportsmanlike

(Un)Sportsmanlike
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After Sunil Gavaskar, the former captain of the Indian sports team, another erstwhile captain, Kapil Dev has turned down the invitation of legendary cricketer turned politician and prime minister in waiting of Pakistan, Imran Khan’s invitation to attend his swearing in ceremony. Khan appears to have sent the invitation in good faith to his former cricketing counterparts but both, to repeat, have rejected the invite. This is as unsportsmanlike as anything. The former cricketing superstars of India should have accepted the good faith invite. Why, the question is, have they chosen to not go to Pakistan to accept Khan’s invite? The answer might lie in polarization along ideological lines which has gradually led to a deepening of the structural animus between arch foes, India and Pakistan. Amid this climate, both Gavaskar and Kapil Dev appear to have chosen to go with the drift and declined Khan’s invite. This is as ominous as can be for if sportspersons of repute get colored by prevailing ideological climate(s), and they choose political conditions and politics over the sportsmanship spirit, it is a telling indicator of the primacy of ideology over reason. Had, hypothetically speaking, both the cricketing legends of Indi accepted the invited, it could have even set the tone for breaking the ice between India and Pakistan to an extent. Sport, generally speaking, and sportspersons, , so to speak, are unconventional. That is, they defy convention. Yes, they represent their countries and play sport in competitive spirit but sport is also characterized by chivalry, and a camaraderie that rises above pettiness or even a given political climate between countries. But, contra this, both Gavaskar and Dev , has chosen to play safe, so to speak, perhaps not to offend powers that be and the general sensibilities of a politicized populace. This constitutes a travesty for sports is one arena and domain that countries can overcome their differences and even constitute an opening for dialogue. This holds true for India and Pakistan , two countries, that are in thrall of deep hostility and animus even after more than seven decades of attaining and gaining independence. While the rejection of Khan’s invitation by the former cricketing superstars of India will not amount to much in terms of relations between India and Pakistan, but what it does is set the tone for these. And, this tone, for all intents and purposes appears to be ominous.

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