Thursday, December 10, 2009

Can Sachin pull off a Tiger?

(Also on
Tiger Woods is a great man. He is easily the greatest golfer in history. By far the most charismatic. All of which contribute to him being the richest sportsperson in the world.
He is golf’s Roger Federer. Or Sachin Tendulkar. Or Usain Bolt. Or Cristiano Ronaldo.

But these comparisons throw the issue out of focus a bit. Because Federer is clean as a whistle. Tendulkar is ‘squeaky’ clean. Bolt is anything but a cheat, on the tracks or off it. Ronaldo is at most a ladies’ man, but young, not married, and therefore 'allowed' to fool around.

So was Tiger Woods. A coloured man. At the peak of his abilities. Married to lovely Elin Nordegren. Life was perfect till Elin found out about his relationships with various women. Heaven knows what Tiger had confessed to, but the count has gone up past 10 already – the number of women Tiger had sexual relations with.

As a result, Tiger’s empire is in a shambles. No one knows if he will able to hold on to the endorsements which make him the richest athlete on the planet. No one knows if Tiger can ever get back to the course and remain the best golfer there is.

And that says a thing or two about pressure, doesn’t it? The pressure of succumbing to your image – only to remain different from the average man.

This year itself, apart from Tiger, we have had a few examples: Andre Agassi, Andrew Symonds, Diego Maradona, Serena Williams and Thierry Henry. All heroes. All now regarded as cheats in some way or the other. None of them now have an image they can bank on anymore.

Let’s just talk about Tendulkar for a bit here. Doesn’t he ever want to abuse? Doesn’t he ever feel like getting drunk? Doesn’t he ever want to share a cigarette with his friend Shane Warne? Doesn’t he ever feel like being with another woman?

Maybe, maybe not. Most probably, he does. But there’s the image one must live within if he has reached where Tendulkar has. A level where there is no good or bad or right or wrong. It’s a level where lines blur so much that lines don’t exist anymore. It’s a level where there’s only success or disaster.

Stick to the image – success. Take even the smallest detour – disaster.

Think about it – billions are usually at stake around these parts. Also think about the fact that Tendulkar has managed to pull it off for 20 years now!