Mike Tyson may not be rolling in his grave, but he sure is rolling on his La-Z-Boy somewhere, aghast that his momentous act of biting off Evander Holyfield’s ear has finally been overshadowed. You wouldn’t want to be like Mike now (actually, no one has wanted to be like Mike for a while now). Mike, who is probably biting his teeth so hard in anger that he will soon endorse a brand of dentures that can bite as well as real teeth.
On the other side of the globe, Luis Suarez, the perpetrator of Mike Tyson’s uncustomary outburst, is feigning any involvement, stating that it was Mike Tyson who committed the act. In his own words, he is shocked beyond words. Mike Tyson has already started training, for what in his head is a revenge match, self-titled ‘Tooth and Nail.’
In fleeting moments of insanity, sporting icons take leave of the pedestals that they are placed on, send common sense on the flight to never land and dive headlong into the ready-to-eat mix called stupidity. Luis Suarez could have very easily been the hero on whose shoulders Uruguay stood to reach the round of 16. Instead, it is his shoulder on which countless memes, late night show jokes and social media updates will stand on to improve their klout* score. It is his shoulder on which some really fortunate punter is taking home 1759 pounds.
*Klout assigns scores based on a person’s social media influence.
Sport isn’t a stranger to theatre. Why, it is the grandest theatre of all where heroes seek to stake claim to immortality. While there will always be a loser, wishing he was alchemist who can turn silver to gold, there is no place for villains. Or so we are led to believe.
Sport isn’t a stranger to villans either. The IPL threw up an ugly spat between Keiron Pollard and Mitchell Starc earlier this year. Zinedine Zidane, who among other legends shared space with the almighty in the hearts of his followers, ended his career by head butting Marco Marterazzi. The only saving grace was that social media was still in incubation and he was spared the memes and the status messages. John McEnroe was a lovable villain but footages of his outbursts will be shown as cautionary tales to aspiring players.
A famous Nike ad from the 90s shows one of basketball’s bad boys, Charles Barkely, proclaiming that he wasn’t a role model nor was he paid to be one. He was simply a basketball player and he didn’t want to take the responsibility of teaching children right from wrong. Ron Artest, the propagator of one of the worst brawls in sport history between the Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistonshas changed his name to Metta world peace, ostensibly to make peace with his violent past and begin anew.
So should sportspersons’ add role model to their resumes? Should they train for it? Should they, in addition to striving for perfection, glory and immortality, also seek to teach impressionable minds right from wrong? Should they, when adrenaline coursing through their veins and the weight of the world on their shoulders, be forgiven for behaving like mankind’s ancestors? Will their legend be diminished by just one folly?
But this is the thing with role models – they are more often than not, self-made. When things don’t go their way, they deal in grace, not in blows.You don’t step onto a field in a world cup, with the world as your audience, and bite someone.
It’s every footballer’s dream to win the World Cup, Luis Suarez is no different. Maybe he kept his little tooth under the pillow and asked the tooth fairy to make him a footballer whose name is on everyone’s lips. Maybe he asked the tooth fairy for World Cup glory.
And when the moment arrived, he bit it all away.