On 7th August 2021, Neeraj Chopra won Olympic gold and millions of hearts with his throw. India and Indians can never forget this day.
Then started the same saga of looting the credits. Many voices started coming from everywhere claiming contributions to the victory of Neeraj Chopra (India) ignoring his own dedication, sacrifices, devotion, hard work, and Tapasya. It is normal “to side-line one’s failures and to snatch the credits of success”, so I ignored all these claims.
Then I received a tweet link as a forwarded message. It was a tweet from the chairperson of a corporate hospital in Mumbai. To my surprise, her tweet mentions a surgery Neeraj underwent two years ago in her hospital. Being a doctor that tweet ignited a series of thoughts in my mind.
Was this the right time for such a tweet?. Was this appropriate to mention his surgery and thank her hospital team? This was the first thought that came to my mind. What was wrong with the tweet? The procedure actually did happen in that hospital two years back. Then what looked objectionable to me? I simply wanted to ignore it, but my insight said “No”.
What if, God forbid, Neeraj wouldn’t have made it through the Olympics? Would the hospital and its team have come ahead and taken the onus on themselves for not doing justice to him? I am sure that would have never happened. This indeed was a hypothetical situation but the question is realistic. Then what is the crux of this tweet, I wondered. I realized, is it marketing? Oh! Yes... This is guerrilla marketing. People trying to snatch a part of Neeraj’s victory credit away from him for their vested interest.
Why is this troubling me? What’s wrong with this? It’s between Neeraj Chopra (the winner) and the hospital. He might be comfortable with this. Or he is fine with his name used in marketing and endorsement tool by a hospital. Then why should it bother anyone? So, I responded to the tweet saying my heart that “Neeraj Chopra is a hero. It’s a proud moment for India, an achievement for everyone. We are grateful to him and his entire team. Let’s not find marketing opportunity in his efforts and achievement”. I usually avoid arguments on social media but couldn’t stop myself from tweeting my heart this time. I then went back to cherish mode. It’s a monumental victory of the nation, the winner (Neeraj Chopra), his family, and his team, teammates, and coaches.
The next day (8th August 2021), I checked my Twitter timeline as usual for any attack from the trollers on my tweet. Luckily, nothing like that happened. I opened the newspaper as I do daily. Good coverage of Neeraj Chopra. Good to see Bajrang Punia also found decent coverage for winning the bronze. And there it was again. It was the same coverage. The same hospital mentioning Neeraj Chopra’s surgery, which happened two years back. It mentioned, “without this surgery, Neeraj wouldn’t have qualified for the Olympics”. Now that is a stretch. The hospital praised itself and idolized the operating doctor more than the champion.
It is a fact that without the surgery, it would have been almost impossible for Neeraj to continue the sport but he could have got that surgery done from any of the Multispeciality hospitals. Any other experienced arthroscopic surgeon would have done it the same way. He would have recovered the same way because his recovery was more dependent on the rehabilitation and his own dedication and willpower.
Here “It was Neeraj’s willpower and dedication which won him the gold. This willpower and dedication were his own.”
The surgery was necessary and thus performed. I strongly feel that the hospital and the doctors should have been grateful to Neeraj Chopra for his devotion and dedication to the sport and strong determination to win. The news article quoted few other names of sportspersons who received treatment in the same hospital which seem to be utterly unnecessary and out of context and looks more like the PR activity of the hospital.
With this article, I condemn the use of patients’ names by any hospital or doctor as their marketing tool. It is unethical to do so. I am sure that these establishments get consent from these celebrity patients to use their names for promotion purposes.
Could the hospital have waited for a few days for this marketing opportunity? How about letting Neeraj Chopra enjoy his achievements and all the focus? If Neeraj would have spoken about them, it wouldn’t have appeared as a marketing exercise.
Would these establishments release another list and take responsibility for the sportspersons they treated who couldn’t qualify in any competition and, if qualified, couldn’t win medals for the country?
Let’s appreciate families, teammates, coaches, friends, supporters of our players. We thank you again for supporting them, expecting no media glory or any rewards. You are the unseen heroes.
May God protect sports from marketing gimmicks.