Ranjona Banerji: Crazy, like a fool; what about Daddy Cool?

25 Jun,2012

Ranjona Banerji

By Ranjona Banerji


If you are an aging tennis star in India, one element vital for your success is a Daddy. Without a Daddy, you can win on the tennis courts. But as we all know, that is not where wars are won, that is where minor skirmishes are fought. The big fight is in the media. You need a Daddy to defend you, speak for you, put forward your point of view – do all the things you are incapable of or couldn’t be bothered to do yourself.


Which is why in the fight between Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi, it is the Daddies who have taken centre court. Why is Bhupathi behaving like such an ass? Out pops Daddy Bhupathi to explain. What is Leander actually going to do? Only Daddy Paes can attempt to answer that.


There are plenty of theories put forward about how men and their fathers operate and many experts use the Oedipus tragedy (son kills father to marry mother) to explain the tension between sons and daddies. But not for the old men of Indian tennis, all this psychobabble poppycock. Compete with their Daddies? Whatever for, when their Daddies are their biggest allies, wiping their botties, filling up their juice bottles, putting on their bibs and interpreting their baby babble for the public.


In women’s tennis, daddies are usually more famous for teaching their daughters some hubble-bubble tennis based on their own crackpot theories and then stealing all their money. Heaven forbid that the Daddies of India’s most famous male tennis players could ever be accused of such reprehensible behaviour. Instead, here they are, speaking up for their adult sons who threaten, bully and sulk their way to the Olympic Games – or not.


What a fine example of India’s famous familial feeling we have here – and dare we say it, India’s long traditions of patriarchy. Birds you know are quite cruel to their babies and push them out of their nests so they can learn to fly. But these tennis Daddies are not wicked birdies – they love their sons and will do whatever the sons want.


I know many daddies who would give such sons two put-puts on their large almost 40-year-old botties and make them fight their own battles. Er, maybe if we had such grown-up, speak-for-themselves tennis stars and less protective Daddies, we might not find ourselves in this Olympic mess?


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