Carrying yourself famously

Many years ago, when I was in school, I had come across the phrase – “fame is like a double-edged sword”. It was only of literal value to me at that time. But as I grew up and got acquainted with the various stories about famous people in the contemporary world, the real meaning of that phrase started to dawn on me.

It must be a great feeling to be a hero in some field, be it in front of a camera on a film set or in a sporting arena playing in front of thousands of cheering fans. But when you are that famous, you tend to become a role model or an idol for many mere mortals, and that is the tricky part because that is where the term ‘responsibility’ comes in. How you carry yourself off the field is what matters in the bigger picture, and I think that separates the ‘greats’ from the ‘legends’.

It is easy to transgress the moral limits – ‘human nature’ some may call it. The sport of Football has had a long history of it’s players crossing the line in off-field altercations with the media and the public, and also wrecking their personal lives due to drug abuse and bigamy. All this at the expense of their professional careers. Diego Maradona is one such ‘great’ player who comes to mind immediately, but there are many others. Cricket too has had it’s fair share of controversies, and Shane Warne’s name is almost synonymous to it. The match-fixing scandal in the late 90’s is another case in the point. Some Indians like Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja had to do away with their careers, but in the case of South African captain Hansie Cronje, it completely obliterated the respect held for him by the Cricket-loving people. In the end it was a miracle that the sport did not loose talented players like Herschelle Gibbs in that storm.

The sport of Golf has been relatively immune to such controversies, but the latest revelations about Tiger Woods’ personal life transgressions proved this to be nothing but fallacy. I must admit that I always looked up to him as an idol for his on-field attitude and he was the last person I expected to have to wash his dirty linen in the public. The world of Tennis too has recently encountered Andre Agassi’s confessions on how he inadvertently consumed performance enhancing drugs during his playing days and later tricked the doping authorities to remain clean.

Does this mean that no person, however legendary he / she may be, can escape stepping on such minefields? I don’t think so. Sachin Tendulkar is one such person whom I can think of who has carried himself amazingly well over his playing career, despite the fact that he is constantly under the media scanner for every move he makes. In fact, apart from his numerous batting records, many contemporary cricketers acknowledge this to be his greatest achievement. I can’t recall fingers being pointed at the personal lives of other cricketing legends like Sir Donald Bradman or Sir Garfield Sobers either. There will surely be similar examples in other sports too. Also, if you observe closely, rarely have such controversies been reported in the early part of the last century (apart from the world of Boxing and Wrestling), only recently have such debates come to the fore.

So does it then come down to the culture surrounding the person or his childhood upbringing? Or is this just part and parcel of life? Big words maybe, and some people may get offended by it, but it’s definitely something to consider.

Images Courtesy

Diego Maradona (Wikimedia OTRS System)

Hansie Cronje (The Independant, UK)

Tiger Woods (Sports Illustrated – CNN)

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8 thoughts on “Carrying yourself famously

    • Yes.. he’s carried himself really well for over 20 years.. in-spite of all the pressure and attention from millions of fans around the world. Stuff like this is rare!

  1. What can u say abt Formula 1 drivers?……..that sports always had been legendery ….with 300 km/h speed….and drivers with talents and skills…i think consistency matters a lot …when you get a world title and become famous ….and have to retain it…next year….

    • True. F1 too needs a lot of guts, precision and consistency. It too has had a long history of world champions who have not just fought hard and fair on the track, but become role models for the youth and inspiration for the general F1 fans. Juan Manuel Fangio, Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher are just a few examples. The article here talks about the same thing, that you have to handle that fame very responsibly – on and off the track – and apart from a few controversies from Schumacher in the mid-1990’s (more on-field than off it), F1 has generally lived up to its good reputation.

  2. Good one Nikhil.

    I agree that with great power comes great responsibility but I think people should keep some control over this “following some great person” attitude.
    Personally I am fan of Aamir Khan, but I limit it to his his acting and his attitude towards his work. I don’t think I can keep same respect for him if I take look into every small/big thing in his personal life.

    If some day I become famous I will try to keep this in mind that I have got great responsibility 😉

    • Yes.. very well said. It’s not just the celebrity’s job to act responsibly but our job too to understand that he / she is just as human as us. We should not have blind faith in someone, and should use our discretion in what action to follow and what to ignore.

  3. Nikhil;
    As I mentioned, keep writing – your blogs are very lucid and thought provoking.
    With the media (and internet) explosion nobody’s lives are private now.
    The sportsmen and entertainers are also mortals (may be lesser mortals?). The blue/yellow news about them highlights that they have become just an instrument/soap star to please the masses or the media – choose what you want.

    You forgot the game of politics and the players there? These are the biggest media grossers these days.

    • Thanks! I’m really glad that you like my blogs 🙂

      You are spot on when you say that the media/internet explosion has become sort of a magnifying glass on the lives of famous personalities. Everything they do – good or bad – is highlighted and on most occasions, help the news channels and websites in earning the extra moolah in terms of TRP ratings. It’s not as if sport personalities of the yesteryears have never been involved in controversies. Case in point: the ‘Bodyline’ series between traditional cricketing rivals England and Australia in 1932-33. I wonder if the English players then had to face so much slander and ridicule.

      As for the politicians, you are right again. I wonder if the term ‘honest leader’ even exists nowadays! I reckon that some of them thrive on such media attention. The recent ‘Telangana’ agitations, and the caste politics in UP over the last few years are examples of that.

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