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Pranav Dhanawade's innings was not a show of "poor sportsmanship"

Pranav Dhanawade's 1009 run effort doesn't deserve to be belittled.

The high score tells but one half of the tale

Pranav Dhanwade has just obliterated a 117 year old record by almost doubling it. His score of 1009 runs scored against Arya Gurukul school stand tall against the previous record of 628 runs scored by AEJ Collins. Here’s 5 things you ought to know about the record. It has been argued in an article titled 'Pranav Dhanawade's innings was a show of poor sportsmanship and lacked respect', that, well, his innings was a show of poor sportsmanship and so on. 
 
There are always two sides of any issue. Yin and yang. Heads and tails. When one side is presented, it is prudent to acknowledge it, infer from it, and attempt to dive into the other side of the issue as well in order to present a complete picture. Here is a stab at mitigating the allegation against Pranav's performance. 
 
Quotes ought to be taken in context for their intended effect. I'd recommend you to go through the piece itself for a clearer picture.The primary argument is that Pranav's KC Gandhi English School was a U-16 team which faced U-14 players. The author stated:

"One should raise questions about what KC Gandhi’s coach was thinking and how he let his team roll over the opposition in such a humiliating manner. The team (Arya Gurukul), formed at short notice, was grossly underprepared for the game as well.”
Pranav Dhanawade with his coach Mobin Shaikh

What was the coach thinking?

 
What the coach was thinking, we can't presume to know. We can most definitely conclude that he managed to send across a message to his team to not roll over and die. If a group of young kids can pull together and manage to play against a marathon innings of four digit runs, that group will find value in seeing things through come what may.
 
Sports teach life lessons in a myriad ways which the classroom can't. Resiliency, patience, perseverance are just a few lessons learned through losing. Hall of Fame Coach Morgan Wootten has said "You learn more from losing than winning. You learn how to keep going.” If a school chooses to field a underwhelming team, they know they are going to have a tough time of it. They can't expect to be cut a break by the opponents.
 
Would it be fair to the KC Gandhi team which had prepared for the game, to drop out in favour of reserves in order to make the competition level? They are kids too, who are looking forward to participating in a contest.
 
"It is truly sad that such treatment was meted out to a makeshift side when the gulf in class is so clearly evident.”
Pranav deserves his record

Match wasn’t fair, neither is life

 
True. The team was unprepared, younger, and it wasn't necessarily a fair contest. You know what else isn't fair? Life. Riding a gravy train throughout your childhood won't prepare you for when you have to take actions with far reaching consequences. 
 
Trial by fire is not necessarily a bad way to grow, provided the fire is of finite duration and doesn't leave scorched earth behind. In this case the Arya Gurukul team came in under prepared and that contributed towards their poor showing. That would have held true regardless of the opponent they faced, their own lack of preparation can't be used as a condemnation of the opposition. 
 
When one steps out on the field against an opposition, what would be the better sign of respect? When the opponent mollycoddles you and treats you like a baby or when they give you the respect due to an opponent and play at their best? 
 
Scoring these many runs against a bunch of first-timers who you have bowled out for 31 in the first innings reeks of sadism and a complete lack of morals on the coach’s part.
The now famous scorecard

Sadism, immorality and devil worship

 
Sadism and immorality are terms usually followed by blasphemy and devil worship. Seems extreme to equate a sports event with sadism. This isn't football or basketball where the elder players are browbeating their opponents with sheer physicality and throwing them around.
 
Children are more concerned with playing the sport for its own sake rather than dissecting the morality of the competition. The worst thing that can be said about the contest is that one team was clearly under-matched and it spent the bulk of its time bowling and fielding while barely getting any time to bat. 
 
An argument can, and has been made, that running up the score ought to be disparaged in all youth sports. That it is a sign of poor sportsmanship. We've seen pros declare their innings while personally being on a tear, because it wasn't required in the match as a win was assured. That side of the argument has been clearly established and practiced through the ages. Perhaps we ought to take a step back from applying adult rationale to children playing a sport for a while. 
 
Look at this from the perspective of the students from Arya Gurukul who played this match. This record will likely stand for ages, and these kids were a part of it, albeit on the receiving end. They have a story to tell for years to come, when they witnessed and participated in a record breaking match. These kids had their deliveries hit all across the park, yet they persevered.

When David took on Goliath

 
At this age it is more important to inculcate positive values in sports which can serve to shape one's character. These kids learned that one ought not to look for a easy way out. They experienced fatigue and a modicum of drudgery, but they cultivated pride from the experience. They can hold their head up and realize that although they were out for 31, even though they had to take a 1465 run shellacking, they didn't roll over. They played their role and went through the motions.
 
Forget the 1009 runs record for a moment and appreciate the fortitude it takes to keep pressing on being on the receiving end of it. Equating the record to poor sportsmanship is a disservice to the Arya Gurukul team.
 
Of the two teams, whose players do you think will be less willing to back down in face of adversity after this experience? The team which had a free ride, or the one which grit their teeth, persevered, and came out standing on the other side knowing they went on where countless others in the past have quit? 
 
David may not have slain Goliath this day, but he sure as heck didn't back down
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