Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gender Bias

One of our three top ranking tennis players, Leander Paes is sulking, and how? Paes is sulking because none of the other two, Bhupati and Bopanna, have agreed to play with him in London Olympics. And Paes does not want to play with lower ranking players who have given their consent. His ego is hurt.

In their own time there were other greats in the game like Naresh Kumar and Ashok Amritraj, just to name the two, but they were never known to have thrown tantrums. Our dear Paes seems to have a king sized ego, conveniently forgetting that there was a time when Naresh Kumar had taken him under his wing when Paes’ rank was much lower. Had he not, history would have been different.

But that is not the main point. The point is, our tennis association is going all out to woo Paes at all costs, it seems. Is an individual, however great a player he may be, greater than the association or the game itself? At one point Paes is alleged to have said: “For the sake of Indian tennis, I am prepared to withdraw from the game”, knowing well that the association will go all out to woo him back. The association did.
When Paes disregarded all offers from the federation, the latter tried to placate him by offering him Sania Mirza as his partner in mixed doubles and that too without consulting Mirza herself. That, in other terms means that Sania doesn’t have any say in the matter as Paes does. Gender bias?

Paes, on the other hand, grasped the opportunity and had the audacity to ask from the association in writing that Sania will play with him. Not only that, he wants conformation in writing from Sania too that she will partner him.

Great, but in all this we forget that Sania Mirza has her own standing in the game. She is not A ‘looking-for-an-opportunity-to-play’ girl. To cap it, she has her own mind and doesn’t hesitate to voice it should the need arise. If she refuses, and she very well can, what is the association going to do? Didn’t the association realize, even for common courtesy, if nothing else, to ask Sania if she was willing? But here again “She is a woman and will do as told” mentality coming to the fore.

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Header image credit: adapted from David Niblack

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