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Peter Griffin
Always a student.

Dear Tendulkar-bhakts: how do you solve a problem like Maria?

Maria Sharapova, Sachin Tendulkar (Reuters)
Last week saw much indignation from Tendulkar ‘fans’ because Maria Sharapova, in an interview, admitted to not knowing who the cricket legend was. Sharapova’s Facebook page was attacked, and enough Tweets to sink an armada were launched. Who the #### was she? What had she achieved that could compare with Tendulkar’s sacred divinity? How could she not know who SRT was? Dammit, there he is in the Royal Box! Saaachinnnn! Sach In!

Take a breath. Pause. Sit down. Put down that smartphone.

Ask yourself, can you blame Sharapova? That young woman plays at the top, or near enough, of her sport, which, as anyone who has played any sport with any degree of perseverance knows, takes a lot of gruelling, concentrated effort and eats up a large slice of one’s time. So she, perhaps, isn’t the best-informed sports star around; everyone can’t be Rahul Dravid. And she’s not alone. You know Virendra Sehwag, right? Arguably the most explosive batsman Indian cricket has ever seen. Who’s got a few achievements under his belt that even SRT didn’t crack, like two Test triple-centuries, including the fastest ever, the highest ODI score, the fastest ODI century by an Indian. A friend on Facebook reminded me that that Sehwag, an Indian, a cricketer, an outstanding Indian cricketer, didn’t know who Vinoo Mankad and Pankaj Roy were.

Saaachinnnn! Sach In!

Anyway, if achievement in one’s own sport is what earns one the right to confess ignorance of another sportsperson, Sharapova isn’t a ‘Greatest Of All Time’ candidate mentioned in the same breath as Martina Navratilova, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King or Steffi Graf just yet, but she’s got some solid credentials. She’s been world Number One, and she’s got a career Grand Slam behind her, which is nothing to sneeze at. And she’s doing quite well on the earnings and world fame fronts, thank you very much. And yes, she has a few years left in the sport for sure, injuries permitting, so she can aspire to GOAT status.

Saaachinnnn! Sach In!

Sachin Tendulkar certainly has a very special place in our cricket-loving hearts. And the debates about whether he or Donald Bradman was the GOAT will, no doubt, continue long and fervently. But, because the little big man played a sport only a handful of countries play with any degree of seriousness (and one practically unknown in the world’s biggest market for sports, the USA, and one that’s played in only a few of the countries that play the world’s most popular sport, football), as much as we idolise him, we cannot realistically expect him to be a household name outside the cricket-speaking world.

Saaachinnnn! Sach In!

Look at the other side of the coin. We in India are as ignorant of many other sports as this Russian in America is about our world. Could the average Indian sports fan (or, hey, Tendulkar himself) pick Derek Jeter out of a line-up? Or Peyton Manning? How about Floyd Mayweather, a world title holder in five boxing weight divisions, and undefeated as a professional? Or Wladimir Klitschko, current world heavyweight boxing champion? He’s been champ for eight years now, and is the second-longest reigning heavyweight champ ever, behind only Joe Louis. Do we know a thing about gorodki? Or sambo?

Saaachinnnn! Sach In!

Fine, fine, let’s leave all that out of it. Let us concede, for argument’s sake, that, never mind apples and oranges, Sharapova’s achievements in tennis are not in the same league as Tendulkar’s stupendous achievements in cricket and that her knowledge of the world isn’t what it should be.

Saaachinnnn! Sach In!

There’s this, dear Tendulkar-bhakts.

Tendulkar has ascended to Himalayan heights in cricket. He played at the top level of his sport for a truly epic length of time, starting earlier than most and carrying on longer than most. Some of his records look like they’ll never be broken. His place in the sporting pantheon is secure. For all practical purposes he is unassailable.

Saaachinnnn! Sach In!

But when you say that if Sharapova does not know who he is, it is a grievous insult, then you’re saying one of two things (or, perhaps, both).

One, that your own life is sad and you have nothing else to bask in but the achievements of Sachin Tendulkar. Any slur on him, imagined or real, attacks your own self-worth.

Two, if all his legendary career counts for nothing without affirmation from this 27-year-old Russian tennis player, that must mean that you think that Sharapova is greater than Tendulkar.

Are you sure that’s what you want to say? Join me now: Saaachinnnn! Sach In!

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Now that Ian Thorpe has come out of the closet, will Tendulkar- bhakts question, if he fancies Sachin??
"And the debates about whether he or Donald Bradman was the GOAT will, no doubt, continue long and fervently"....hahaha...I read this line again & again...EPIC(If you nderstand the pun)
India's contribution to others sports besides cricket is nothing to boast about so all we Indians know are these players. I wont blame any athlete who is ignorant about Sachin..may b they all need to realise that there are other sports bigger than cricket and lot many sporting greats who will not know who is SRT.
Good it is logical , but somewhere down the line it hurts our very Indian inside us....
RISHI THAREJA
WHAT ALL YOU SAID IS TRUE TO FACTS . EVERYTHING ACCEPTABLE. BUT I WONDER DOES MARIA HERSELF FOLLOW WIMBLEDON NEWS??? I JUST WONDER...AS SRT HAS BEEN VISITING THERE FOR QUITE SOME TIME. AND EVERY TIME HE GIVES A VISIT HE BECOMES THE NEWS THAT AND NEXT DAYS. AND SOMEWHERE I READ SRT N MARIA WAS TO BE TAKEN FOR A BRAND ENDORSEMENT BUT COULDN'T DO THAT...WELL THEY BOTH WERE APPROACHED. I DON'T THINK SRT IS A PERSON WHO WILL FORGET IF SOMEONE POPULAR FROM OTHER SPORT WOULD HAVE COME TO SEEN HIM PLAYING AND HE GOT THE NEWS OF THAT. MARIA IS GOOD PLAYER BUT NOW I DOUBT HER MEMORY.
I doubt his visit is news to anybody outside India. And why do you care so much for Maria's memory. She's not there for a G.K. quiz.
The world is blessed with all kind of people, with the Good comes the bad and with the Bad comes the Ugly. Fans are like the same, some understand and some just don't. I am sure , if anybody would have said who is Sharapova then some of her of fans would have reacted. Move on guys, we have bigger problems in this world then WHO is WHO ?
Abhishek Saraogi
Well said Mr. Griffin, undoubtedly the best argument I have come across.
brajendraparmar
True....Some guys are reacting like she did a big crime.......Even sachin didn't comment on it then these guys are doing nonsense......
Vijay Pratap Singh
well explained sir ...the fans who r backing themselves should 1st knw wht the spirit of any sport is.... being a indian i'm sorry on behalf of these mindless ppl to all those who hv been hurted for sharapova even i gt hurted ..... if u r supporting a sports personality u should nt criticize others because sport is to unite people nt to divide ....
Dear writer all the above agreed... However why are u talking abt the self worth of bhakts... Can't u find a decent job or a life better than criticising recklessly. Again, ur content is bang on. But tat doesn't entitle you to have a go at passionate followers. At least we re better than racists/terrorists/Fraudulent bankers... Have some **** to attack them the next time
Vijay Pratap Singh
Sagar Advani, ur thinking shows hw better u r than terrorist ... if u r comparing urself with these unsocial elements anyone can tell u hw better u r...for example we never compare our army with these basterds terrorists coz they dnt stand anywhere in front of us...nw think be4 comparing
Kiran Jonnalagadda
You know nothing, Peter Griffin!
Retirement is coming, Ser Jonnalagadda.
Akash Mahajan
Seriously, right in the middle of such a serious debate you both want to troll each other! Update you wordpress blog forbes http://forbesindia.com/blog/readme.html :p
Well said but twitter already gave these lessons to Sachin bhakts. And they would be in hundreds. Majority of Sachin's fans don't even react to such things.
Have you seen the comments on Ms Sharapova's Facebook page, Vinay? More than a few hundred, I think.
(I don't mean to disagree with the second part of your comment, by the way. I don't think the attack on Sharapova is representative of Tendulkar's real fans, people who understand the game, who appreciate him for who he is, not for what they want to be.)
I am a big Sachin fan and I named my son after him. Sharapova's incident didn't hurt me a bit. I laughed at people's reaction on social media and their creativity. The problem is social media gives everyone a chance to express, whether that person is right or wrong is a different debate. There are two categories of people here. One who have reacted in a fit of rage or not able to digest the fact that their GOD is not known to a tennis player, and others who would have simply put their creativity to use to showcase their talent to the digital world.
Kush kumar, Khagaria, Bihar
If someone does not know anyone's name,especially who is reverent in their field,it does not mean that s/he has done crime...
Well said, bravo, clap, clap, clap!
 
 
Peter Griffin
I handle the 'Life' section of Forbes India.
In previous lives, I was an advertising creative director, voice-over artist, RJ, TV host, web producer and content architect, freelance travel writer, columnist, and consultant to NGOs.
I've been blogging since 2003, and co-founded the South-East Asia Tsunami & Earthquake and Mumbai Help blogs (which, with other similar initiatives later became the WorldWideHelp group), and the writers’ community, Caferati. I'm a keen student of collaboration and online culture. I also co-curated the Literature section of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival from 2006 to 2012.
Aside from Twitter (link below), you could also follow me on Facebook or Google+.
 
 
 
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July 16, 2014 16:08 pm by Vikram
Now that Ian Thorpe has come out of the closet, will Tendulkar- bhakts question, if he fancies Sachin??
July 11, 2014 17:08 pm by CTL
"And the debates about whether he or Donald Bradman was the GOAT will, no doubt, continue long and fervently"....hahaha...I read this line again & again...EPIC(If you nderstand the pun)
July 09, 2014 16:20 pm by Shalini
I doubt his visit is news to anybody outside India. And why do you care so much for Maria's memory. She's not there for a G.K. quiz.
July 08, 2014 16:16 pm by manish
India's contribution to others sports besides cricket is nothing to boast about so all we Indians know are these players. I wont blame any athlete who is ignorant about Sachin..may b they all need to realise that there are other sports bigger than cricket and lot many sporting greats who will not kn...
July 08, 2014 15:59 pm by Ananya Nigam
Good it is logical , but somewhere down the line it hurts our very Indian inside us....
 
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