I love the Times of India. At least for the sports pages, which glorify non-Cricket sports.

Vishwanathan Anand won the World Chess Championship two days ago. Today TOI went ga-ga over his achievements. The sports page carried a king-size photo of his, his parents’ interview and his career achievements all over the page. TOI said that Anand ruled the Chess world since 1995 and if he succeeded in defeating the next year’s challenger, he would reign for 16 years and thus be better than Kasparov who was the World Champion from 1985 to 2000. What it doesn’t mention is that Anand never actually won against Kasparov in head-to-head tournaments. He became the World Champion in 2000 because Kasparov did not participate (he had differences in opinion with FIDE and formed his own PCA (Professional Chess Association)) and later, after Kasparov announced his retirement. (It would be worthy to mention that Kasparov was defeated by Kramnik who lost to Anand in 2000, but are we considering transitivity of wins here?)

Nevertheless, the point is that Chess players around the world believe that Kasparov has been the greatest players of all time (considering the ELO rating system, which has its lacunae, according to a few GMs) and also believed that Anand cannot win head-on against Kasparov. But TOI glorified Anand’s achievements to the extent that Kasparov and the other K’s seem mere mortals whom even you and I can defeat!

The way TOI puts Indians’ achievements on a pedestal is also noticeable in other sports. I am especially reminded of a match between Sania Malik nee Mirza and Maria Sharapova that TOI had excessively hyped. It treated both players at more-or-less the same game level (even though statistically everyone knew that Sania was going to lose). The sports page showed all sorts of comparisons between the two players, to the extent that the title was “SM or MS?” (referring to their initials). Needless to say, Sania, as predicted lost badly to Maria.

As a passing comment, I am also reminded of that boldfaced font used in listing Indian drivers and team Force India in the F1 standings.

Actually, such glorification does turn out to be useful in producing sportspersons in the country. Youngsters feel motivated to play for India, when they see their heroes performing at the international level. So, whereas the wiser generation would believe the comparison of Anand and Sania Mirza to Kasparov and Sharapova to be unjustified, it would be cool if such a comparison would bring out some world-class sportsmen that the country craves.