188 - Monday Musings - Good guys can finish first
It is difficult for any observer with even a small cricketing bone in him in India and outside, not to be swayed by the Sachin-mania that has swept them like a typhoon. They can be broadly be classified in the following categories - The cricket enthusiasts, The worshippers, and The pattern makers.
The cricket enthusiasts are the purists within this lot. They adore the 'Big' little man for the sheer cricketing genius that he was. Their love for Sachin was nothing but a personalization of their love for the game. What better way of expressing their love for the willow or the cherry than idolize the one man who almost became larger than the game itself! In praising Sachin they praised cricket and their love for it. They loved him because he took the game to levels higher than what he inherited. But make no mistake - they loved Sachin because they loved cricket and not the other way around.
The worshippers loved him for what they aspired to become but probably fell short of. Sachin represented the Indian version of the 'American dream' if there is one - A middle class Indian who aspires to make it big by the dint of his hard work in the right way, An 'Aam Admi' who wants to raise his future to a level where matters of existence do not faze him anymore and allows him the rare luxury of doing what he loves. The worshippers were in awe of Sachin because he had demonstrated that such a thing was indeed possible. He represented what they always wanted to do and become. His God-like following was perhaps less to do with his cricketing genius but more to do with what he came to represent for the 'aam aadmi' - a metaphor for unbridled aspiration even in the face of scarcity. In an icon hungry but icon scarce country he offered hope.
The pattern makers are intellectuals who try to solve the non-sporting aspects of Sachin the person and his meteoric rise. They explore, amongst other things, how Sachin's rise coincided with the rise of India along with the liberalization of economy, how Sachin represented the rise of youth power in the face of a geriatric leadership, how he heralded a silent aggression in an otherwise lukewarm dressing room so on and so forth. They will continue to draw such patterns.
What do I like Sachin for the most? Given the cubclist that i am, of the many things i admire about him the one thing that keeps coming back to me is that - 'Good guys can finish first'. Sachin's rise to prominence and stardom is unblemished. His humility and personal disposition is unquestionable. In 24 long years, despite his dizzying stardom, there is absolutely no question about his integrity. Even his worst critic knows this as an ablsolute truth that he owes his success, riches, and iconic status to nothing and nothing but merit. In the corporate world where it is so easy to be disillusioned as many have, for right reasons or wrong, and where everyone is in search of the secret of making it big, that is such a reassuring conclusion.