(Warning to American readers: What follows is about cricket)
As I watched the aftermath of Harbhajan Singh's infamous slap, I couldn't help but feel that the way Sreesanth's breakdown was treated says something nice about Indian culture, or at least the Indian media. If Andrew Symonds had burst into tears, mucous running down his face, when Harbhajan called him a monkey, you can bet that the Australian press would have been all over him. Crybaby! Then again, maybe he'd have seen Harbhajan get the fine/ban he deserved for racism.
Here in India, though, despite Punjab's reputation for machismo, Sreesanth has been given a carte blanche for letting his tears flow. Even though he has repeatedly acted the tough guy on the pitch, nobody has dared to suggest that the next time he gives a batsman his baleful glare, the guy will just laugh and warn him that he might get his behind paddled, or caution him lest he get overwhelmed by his emotions. You can be sure that America's sports columnists would be over the moon at the opportunity. We've already joked about it in one movie (OK-a chick flick). But it's true. There's no crying in baseball.
More significantly, though, I wonder how Harbhajan would have been punished if Sreesanth had not bawled in Yuvraj Singh's arms on national TV. What if Sreesanth had instead fumed in anger, and complained to the board (like the Australians)? Would Harbhajan have received an 11-match ban, losing 30 million rupees? I think not.
The punishment needs to fit the crime. A little slap is certainly wrong--we can't condone violence--but 4 matches / 1 crore would have been more than sufficient to send that message. I think what is happening here is that the board is making up for its failure to punish Harbhajan for his much more serious offense--the racial slur he busted out in Australia. At that time, they blew with the prevailing wind rather than take a tough decision and send a clear message to the players. And now, no surprise, they're doing the same thing.
The only stunning thing was that India sided with the sensitive southie, instead of the tough guy from the north who did what any Bollywood hero would do and everybody is always talking about.... Delivered "one tight slap" to a guy who (frankly) has been asking for it since he first stepped on the pitch.