Million Dollar Arm and India's Hidden Athletic Talent
Last week, we witnessed the release of the movie Million Dollar Arm starring Suraj Sharma and Madhur Mittal. The movie is based on the true story of Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel. This Hollywood blockbuster relays the events of the two boys from India and their journey to the United States. Both boys played cricket and javelin in their villages, and during an American reality TV show looking for potential baseball pitchers, found their ticket to America. From playing in the dirt to playing under the lights, these boys are the epitome of desis performing well in western athletics.
In a country with over a billion people, there is plenty of hidden talent all over the subcontinent. Over the past twenty years, there has been a rise in Indians taking part in western athletics. In fact, notable Indian names in the NFL include Bobby Singh, Sanjay Beach, Brandon Chillar, John Singh Gill, and Sanjay Lal. Even names like Alexi Grewal, the first Indian American to win a gold medal in 1984 show what we as a people have to offer. Jinder Mahal, Dalip Singh Rana, and Retesh Bhalla are popular names in the wrestling communities. Even the president of the United States Soccer Federation is Indian. Last year we even witnessed the possibility of Satnam Singh Bhamara playing in the NBA.
Most of the people mentioned above were Indian Americans. Their parents were from India, but these athletes were raised in America. Very few athletes in American sports were raised in India. Million Dollar Arm stands to prove that deep in India, there are people with hidden talents for American Sports. Many of these people, like Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, are living in extreme poverty doing menial labor. Their ticket to fame and success relies upon being discovered by American teams. In Rinku Singh’s example, he didn’t even know what baseball was until he showed up to the tryouts. Many of these people don’t know about the opportunities that could transform their lives.
Another problem many of these people in these smaller villages and communities face is the issue of not being able to leave home. Having to stay with their families in these communities to support the village is another inherent problem. This combined with extreme poverty in rural India just proves to make it harder for India to showcase its innate athletic prowess.
More programs like Million Dollar Arm are necessary. More recognition of Indian athletes needs to take place in order for these people to get their ride to America. Million Dollar Arm has been good for India in the sense that it shows the west that there is true talent hidden in India. It allows others to see what this country of over a billion people has to offer. Hopefully in the future we will be able to see more Indian athletes partaking in American sports, and hopefully we can uncover the true athletes of India.[Image Attribute: mid-day.com]