Just when you thought Indian sport had it good and that it could only get better from here on, reality struck and bit hard.
Ravi Dixit, a 23-year-old squash player ranked 211 in the world, offered his kidney for sale on social media quoting a price of Rs. 8 lacs.
That such a venture is illegal and could invite strictures from policing bodies is besides the point.
The question is: How did things come to such a critical point?
Aren’t the mushrooming of leagues across various sports a signal of the healthiness of Indian sport?
Can’t Indian sportspersons hope to earn a living through their endeavours?
But wait, Indian squash has yet to sprout a league to showcase home-grown talent. (Feel free to correct me if I have my facts wrong. All my research is courtesy Google.)
“I need at least Rs. 1 lakh to participate in the South Asian Games but have not been able to find any sponsor.
So, I have decided to sell my kidney for Rs. 8 lakh so that I can participate in other tournaments as well for the rest of the year.”
Dixit later retracted his statement, saying:
“I did not realise there is so much to be read into this until I received a call from a reporter.Squash is my life and I wish to continue playing it. I am keen to pursue the game as my career and would continuously look for sponsors. I never intended to sell my kidney and it was a spur of the moment statement for which I am sorry. I apologise to my family and the people who have supported me.”
His mother, Sarvesh, said:
“It is difficult for us to support the family solely on my husband’s income. The mill has been very generous in its support to Ravi’s career but we are too embarrassed to ask for more help.”
Uttar Pradesh politicians have been quick to jump onto the publicity bandwagon.
Minister Moolchand Chauhan said:
“I am surprised that such a talented player is auctioning his kidney. All possible help will be given to him.”
Indian squash may not have as illustrious a heritage as their neighbours across the Khyber pass but they have turned out sterling players over the years. Most Indian players in the past were soon lost to American universities who offered sports scholarships to play and prosper on their courts.
Adrian Ezra is one such instance.
Tennis players such as Somdev Devvarman and Sanam Singh have also traversed this route.
Will the Squash Rackets Federation of India take its cue from this almost miscue?