Are sportspersons mere commodities whose brand-value we all en-cash, even if it has tragic connotations? When the likes of Tendulkar are scoring runs, they make news, when they are not, they still make news.
Yuvraj Singh: The news of a malignant tumour, which was was revealed on Februrary 5, 2012, between his lungs shocked the all rounder's friends and fans. The player is currently undergoing treatment in the US and will be able to resume training in May, his doctor said. (File photo: AFP)
Worse, when we feel their time is up, we use pejorative phrases like “kick them out” for the same people we had idolised as living gods.
We can go to any length to exploit their success and failures as long as viewership/readership is assured.
It is a relationship that feeds on each other and hence is almost impossible to alter, given its voyeuristic nature. In this supply and demand chain, what is forgotten, perhaps, is the very person, who, because of his achievements had become a household name.
In the past week, we have made a life-threatening disease into a spectacle. Yuvraj Singh is a brave man and regardless of what he has or has not achieved as a cricketer, needs all our best wishes and the best treatment possible to recover from his disease.
His fans have a right to know what his condition is, and by when he could be back on the cricket field. The problem arises when we treat even this personal tragedy as a matter of public discourse in which speculation, gossip, fact and fiction merge so that the story becomes too soppy or even juicy. Anything for a few more viewers seems to be the principle of those for whom the only end is to garner TRP ratings, or increase their circulation.
Nothing epitomises the cynical exploitation of a personal trauma for brand awareness more clearly than the repeated re-runs of an advertisement of a life insurance company, which Yuvraj had first recorded much before his cancer had been detected.
However, in this case, if the player and his family themselves have no problem, who are we to complain!
The larger unease remains with where to draw the line between a man's public persona and his private life.
Yuvraj, understandably, has felt the need to tell the world to respect his private space, something which we all did when Congress leader Sonia Gandhi went for treatment to a hospital in the USA.
Except for the fact that she was not well, we were not told what the disease was, nor were we fed details of how, where and when it all happened, like it is being done in Yuvraj's case.
It is obvious that we treat our more powerful people differently and respect their private space, unlike the way we treat our sportspersons. They are mere commodities for us.