Sending right message

While Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul are hoping that all will be forgiven by the time the Indian Premier League rolls around in a couple of months, their indiscretion on appearing on Karan Johar’s talk show will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Though Pandya and Rahul have not quite escaped without punishment — it is uncertain whether they will have further sanctions against them — the humiliation of being asked to return home from an overseas tour must have shattered their egos. Compared to the only other incident of the legendary Lala Amarnath being called back in 1936 over insubordination charges by a Maharaja of British India, this looks even more disreputable in comparison. While the punishment seems harsh, may be it needed to be done by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to send a message to all professional cricketers in India to mind their tongues, considering the cult following they have among our youth. Of course, this should have been taught to these two young men well before they appeared on this show and if there is somebody who should be fired after all this, it is the publicist for both these sportspersons. All Indian sports personalities should realise that they cannot shoot their mouths off and expect there won’t be consequences.

But the BCCI acting with alacrity in this case, even though it recently concluded a very strange internal investigation into a sexual harassment complaint, also highlights that in today’s day and age sexist and racist comments like those made by Pandya are unacceptable. For this reason it remains important that the BCCI also takes some initiatives to give these young men, who have suddenly come into fame and fortune, lessons in etiquette and public speaking. While journalists might like those who speak their minds as they always make for great copy, in today’s perpetually outraged world, sportspersons, particularly those not quite at the very top, should be really careful of their comments. By taking the stand it has, the BCCI has sent a signal to everyone that boards and authorities will not bury such incidents under the table. This should not and cannot be excused as a ‘men will be men’ incident. However, both Pandya and Rahul do have much of their playing careers left and one hopes that they will learn a hard lesson from this incident. They have paid with humiliation and the loss of sponsorship. Next time their brains might intervene before they open their mouths.