Journalism, Opinions and Rio Olympics

Alright, so this is hot news on the internet at the moment. Waking up to this Wednesday morning, India is staring dazed at her news feed on the outrage that Shobhaa De has sparked when she threw muck at Team India at the Olympics.

Now there is a part of me (I shall elaborate more on this part later) that wants to hang her out to dry; but I am told that radio active waste and feminists ought to be handled with care. However there is relief, more capable people have retorted aptly to her tweet.

So why did Shobhaa De make such a statement? Honestly, no once cares why she made that statement; the fact is that she did make it. Unless she had otherwise explicitly mentioned the reason behind such a remark the reason why she made it is insignificant. That being said- whatever the reason for such a remark, the remark as such is simply unacceptable.

It is like saying “Goal of Indian columnists at life: laptop kholo, bakwas likho. selfie lo. Dharti k bhoj badao! What a waste of words and talent”.

Then again the above statement is just not true. It is absolutely ridiculous to to call Indian columnists a waste. Downright ignorant and highly stupid to even opine such thoughts. And in that light, the statement by this particular writer is “preposterous”.


I believe that the rest of the country does know better and her comments are not worth the fingerprint smudges on the laptop keys. Yet, I would still like to bring our a few flaws in her assumptions that may have been the fundament to such a remark.

1- You Don’t Simply Buy Tickets into The Olympics

Remember I spoke about the part of me that wants to hang her out to dry? Well that part of me has to do with athletics. Like any person who took to the track and field, I loved to run so much so that it became a part of me and I lived and breathed track and field. During my last year at school I knew that I finally had the strength to make it big outside of school.

I could run and beat my fellow classmates but it was a different story at the state level and another world altogether at the nationals. Just being the fastest at school doesn’t guarantee you anything. Now think about what it takes to make it to Team India for the Olympics. You need to be the best and remain there for four years. Olympics isn’t an annual event you see.

Now, anyone who has trained and paid for a seat at the Rio Olympics in sweat, blood, hard work and patience would definitely want to come back with a medal. Posing for a selfie is the last thing on their minds. It take unwavering focus to get to Rio and once there, I don’t think our athletes are persuades by the Olympic spirit to forget their training and transform into selfie models.

Speaking of selfies, even kindergarten kids take selfies these day. It’s no big deal; it’s almost like breathing.

The thing is that you just can’t buy your ticket into Team India for a spot at the Rio Olympics. You need to prove yourself and continue proving it for a long time up to the selection for the Olympic team. It’s not for the faint of heart or body. It is the greatest test of the mind and body; mostly because of the discipline involved. Making random statements however, requires none.

In spite of all these preparations, the spirit of sportsmanship sometimes requires you to have to reconcile with the fact that there were factors beyond your control. Like genetics, advanced training techniques and a host of other factors that mere TV spectators like us can’t even fathom. Winning in the Olympics isn’t as easy as putting pen to paper or in this regard- putting finger to screen.

Our athletes not having won a medal is not indicative of a lack of focus or desire to win or that they were busy vacationing in Rio, Brazil. I am sure they would have felt the pinch of loosing much more than any of us. Please remember that the burden of our expectations rests on their shoulder and not yours.

2- Medals Aren’t Kept On a Table For The Picking

Winning a medal at the Olympics isn’t a matter of picking them up from a table like how you would for a buffet at barbeque nation. Even Michael Phelps for all his gold medal bagging capacity is subject to intense training that tests his physical limits for the rest of the 11 months in the year.

Sometimes the best just isn’t good enough for a medal and that doesn’t imply that all those who aimed for the medal but couldn’t get any are a waste of money and opportunity.

Then again, it is not like we haven’t won any medals at all at the Olympics. Here’s a recap just in case.

It would help if we all understood that not all athletes are Micheal Phelps to heap up gold medals by the dozens. And even he is a rare phenomenon in the sporting world both physically (a great deal owing to genetics) and mentally.

So What’s The Real Deal?

A personality like herself, Shobhaa De has been a writer for tad long to have spewed out a remark such as this one ‘unknowingly’. That leave’s two other possibilities that might seem viable. The first one being that she was probably drunk at the time she tweeted that statement.

A lot many people have made life ruining blunders when they were drunk so it should come as no surprise if this were tweeted under the influence of alcohol. Then again it would be of no surprise if it weren’t either. Alcohol can be ruled out because in a later tweet, she maintains the same tone of insult to Abhinav Bindra.

The second possibility is that she was probably looking for some cheap publicity. It’s the Rio Olympics and there couldn’t be a more trending topic than this to float one’s name around on. Now a lot of quality content on the games are already being shown by renowned channels and media, so that wouldn’t stick around. Why not a cheap and dirty remark. YES, that seems to have worked! You can’t really blame her, can you?

By reacting to this, our dear lady seems to have got just the PR she was looking for, without having lifted a finger. Well, okay she did have to lift her finger to type out that tweet. But, yeah, minimum effort maximum results. Gosh she should take up management consulting. On second thought, perhaps not.

It also gives small time writer not unlike myself the chance to write something on the matter and hope to get noticed. After all this is the kind of stuff that trends in the social media right?

They That Really Need Our Attention

Fellow countrymen, Shobha De doesn’t really need our attention, she can survive this Olympic season without us and not really be bothered about her rating as a writer. But our athletes at Rio who have put their body and soul into this defining moment could make do with a little attention from us, yeah? A prayer perhaps, or just the consolation that millions at home will be watching them on TV as they strive to make India proud.

Jai India!


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