Beyond the metrics of comparing performances across disciplines, what hurts the athletic world is the national fixation with cricket.
Team India captain Virat Kohli is one of two sportspersons to get the Khel Ratna award this year. The choice is somewhat incongruous when so many sportspeople have performed phenomenally in diverse disciplines in recent times. There is no taking away the career achievements of the young batsman who has already amassed thousands of runs across formats while being the top-rated Test batsman on surpassing Steve Smith. But this was the year of the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games at which our athletes, many of whom overcame hurdles in exceptional ways in their lives and careers, have excelled. Kidambi Srikanth, whose triumphs on the badminton circuit were meritorious, missed out on the award while wrestlers Bajrang Punia and Vinesh Phogat scored more points on the performance scale than weightlifter Mirabai Chanu who has been picked along with Kohli.
Beyond the metrics of comparing performances across disciplines, what hurts the athletic world is the national fixation with cricket. The game tends to dominate everything even at a time of triumphant performances in diverse fields by young athletes. There was no need then in a year in which Team India won little of note for an individual cricketer to be chosen for the top sporting award that had not gone to him in the previous two years. The athletes, the badminton stars and a golfer were crying for recognition, as can be made out from the list of Arjuna awardees. Any one of them could have been nominated for the top award this year rather than the cricket captain who has also already won a Padma award. Blame it on our national obsession with the willow game.