Badminton does not make for a very spectator friendly sport. It is an intense, involving game to play but watching it... let's just say doesn't exactly rouse the passions. We have had a world champion player in the form of Prakash Padukone (Unfortunately for him, nowadays better known as the father of Deepika Padukone) in the past and a few years ago, Pullela Gopichand won the All England Open, one of the most if not the most prestigious badminton championships. P. Gopichand is not a M.S. Dhoni or a Sachin Tendulkar so it is not unexpected that very few stories appeared in the Indian press during his heyday. But one incident does stick on like Feviquik to my memory.
It seems that Pepsi had offered Gopichand a sponsorship provided he did a TV commercial for them during the time when he was at his sporting peak both in terms of popularity and on-court success. Gopichand quietly declined stating that he did not drink any carbonated beverages and as any player would tell you, sportsmen and carbonated drinks do not mix no matter how many beaming smiles of promotion you see on TV ads by your favourite cricketer/footballer. The glory days of sportsmen are very limited and their fall from the limelight is brutal and swift once their playing days are over. This is especially true of lesser watched sports like badminton, hockey etc. In the face of such stark reality, to hold off on something which easily could have ensured a comfortable existence for him in the years to come just because of that old fashioned value called integrity, for a product whose usage he did not want to promote, I have only one word. Respect.