Don’t Call Me King

says Virat Kohli as sociologists weigh in on the former skipper’s request to drop the ‘royal’ title

Team India’s star and erstwhile captain Virat Kohli doesn’t want to be called ‘King Kohli.’ Kunal Gandhi, an Indian cricket fan residing in Australia, had, in an interview with DC, claimed that he was the first to use the word ‘King’ to describe Kohli. “During India's tour of Australia in 2014, I wanted to give him a jersey but did not want to write only his name without an adequate adjective. And I thought King suits him best,” he had said. And the epithet became very popular.

However, Kohli, who is playing in the ongoing IPL tournament, doesn’t want to be known as ‘King.’ “You need to stop calling me that. I was telling Faf [du Plessis] that it is very embarrassing for me when you call me that name every year; just call me ‘Virat’, he told the media.

“It’s ultimately up to Virat Kohli himself to determine how he responds to being called King Kohli,’ says Keerthana Swaminathan, a well-known sociologist. “It’s possible that constantly hearing this title could impact his mindset and focus during games. Some athletes may feel added pressure to live up to such lofty expectations, while others may find it motivating,” she notes.

“Excessive external pressure or distractions can sometimes affect an athlete’s performance on the field. Ultimately, each athlete responds differently to external stimuli, and it’s important to respect Kohli’s preferences regarding how he is addressed,” she stresses.

“As a celebrity, Virat Kohli faces challenges like heightened public scrutiny and expectations. This can bring added pressure to perform, both on and off the field. From a sports psychologist’s perspective, such pressure can impact an athlete’s mental well-being and performance,” Keerthana says. Emphasising the importance of a strong support system, including coaches, teammates and mental health professionals, in navigating the demands of fame and professional sports, she points out that fans must understand that celebrities like Virat deserve privacy and personal space off the field. “Recognising the human side of these athletes and respecting their boundaries is essential for maintaining a healthy and supportive fan-athlete relationship,” she comments. And this includes respecting his request that fans refrain from calling him ‘King Kohli.’

Anshu Kwedia, managing committee member of the Indian Sociological Society, and a Professor and Principal in Lucknow, says, “The ruckus over giving the title of ‘King’ to Virat Kohli has initiated a new debate. In my view, refusing the title is a mark of his generosity. Because a game is not won only by the captain, rather, it’s the result of a strong team effort. The victory is not limited to the captain, that’s why Virat doesn’t want to accept this title — it will definitely hurt the team spirit, which is not in the interests of the nation. India is proud of such players who give priority to their team instead of to themselves.”

“Virat is modest and people should respect his modesty. Fans should respect what he wants. Kudos to Virat,” says a sociologist, Gayatri Bhattacharya, from Kolkata.

“The term ‘King’ was given to Virat by his fans and has become very popular. Virat wants to remain a ‘common man.’ There are positives and negatives to such terms, and it is up to the individual how to deal with it,” Sanjay Kolekar, a member of the Indian Sociological Society, says, speaking from Pune.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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