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For whom the bells toll

For whom the bells toll
Highlights

On the face of it, it is easier to win over a couple of players who are into individual sports than those who specialise in team disciplines. The logistics and the temptations are pretty simple and rather enticing – one makes millions more by throwing in the towel than after winning the title and the prize money that it brings along. 

On the face of it, it is easier to win over a couple of players who are into individual sports than those who specialise in team disciplines. The logistics and the temptations are pretty simple and rather enticing – one makes millions more by throwing in the towel than after winning the title and the prize money that it brings along.

Although, a hue and cry is being raised over alleged match-fixing in tennis, one is wonderstruck at the manner it is being trumpeted as the worst thing to happen to sport. One has to only ponder over the nefarious goings-on in cricket, football and now athletics.

In a way, it suddenly looks like sport was always in the grip of the mafia and booking syndicates, who covered the uglier side of sportsmanship. It also goes without saying that several Olympic disciplines, especially track and field, have been notorious for the alarming nexus that exists between the athletes and the bookies.

The periodicity with which athletes are found guilty of using performance-enhancing steroids is astounding. In fact, in chess such ‘gifts’ are commonplace, particularly if the opponent is on the verge of getting a Norm.

Unfortunately, unlike cricket which does not hesitate to slap life bans on errant players, sportspersons in other disciplines are ‘rehabilitated.’ A Ben Johnson or a Mike Tyson is presumed ‘reformed’ after figuring in the Rogue’s Gallery for a while.

Coming to the latest tennis ‘exposure,’ one fails to understand why there has been such a verbal condemnation over the possibility of some top players being involved in fixing matches. If a tennis player falls prey to the millions that are dangled, it is merely an extension of his belief that he is a ‘mercenary’ who is available if a price is put on the head.

Throwing matches makes economic sense to these players, more so if they are the heir-apparent or pretenders to the throne. Moreover, who will determine that a player is guilty of gifting the match away so that the bookies can rake in millions? Of course, there is a punishment for wrong-doers during Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Olympics.

However, a player whose integrity is questionable can never be found guilty of any fraud because his losing or winning will only impact the rankings. Yes, the image could be dented but for only so long. Tennis players are thoroughbred professionals for whom money means more than an Olympic honour, which gets evidenced by the manner celebrated names tend to skip Davis Cup and Olympic engagements.

None can stop a player into individual sport from throwing in matches that only involves another player. It is a tragic irony that many players are now talking of being ‘approached’. Where was their integrity all these years? They may not be accomplices to the crime as such, but don’t they also deserve to be punished for maintaining a stoic silence and not going to the authorities despite being aware of the million-dollar fraud?

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