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HindustanTimes Tue,02 Sep 2014

Cricket Columns

Time we show sportsmanship
Aakash Chopra
April 08, 2013
First Published: 00:52 IST(8/4/2013)
Last Updated: 00:55 IST(8/4/2013)

The decision by the Tamil Nadu government to prohibit 13 Sri Lankan players from entering the state isn't just shocking but also inexplicable. While the alleged atrocities on Tamils in Sri Lanka are well documented and the anger justified, it doesn't take much to figure out that this decision is being used to gain political mileage.

The most obvious question is that if it's indeed right to ban the players from playing in Chennai, shouldn't it be logical to ban them from playing in other Indian cities too? Why has the state been allowed to be autocratic? And if this is indeed the right way to protest, shouldn't there be a countrywide protest too?

For the record, the promoters of this ban - the DMK also own an team (Hyderabad Sunrisers), being led by a Sri Lankan (Kumar Sangakkara). In addition, the same Sun Group owns a private airline (SpiceJet) that frequents Colombo and also offers the cheapest airfares from India.

If a Sri Lankan can lead their T20 team and they can make money by plying to Sri Lanka, how shallow and hypocritical their protest against the Sri Lankans is, isn't hard to decipher. In any case, is it even fair to mix sports with politics? The tournament is a successful brand that grabs eyeballs, perhaps the reason petty politics is played out in its name.

Quite similar is the case with Pakistan. On one hand, we claim to have snapped all sporting ties (we sent their hockey players back, made their women's team feel unwelcome by not allowing them to play in Mumbai and none of their players are allowed in the T20 league), while we conveniently allow their coaches, commentators and other artists to ply their craft.

It is unfortunate that the biggest democracy in the world is turning out to be a hypocritical nation by making sports a soft target. We must evolve from being a sport-loving nation, to one which abides by the spirit of sportsmanship too.

The writer is a former India batsman


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