Some sports fans do crazy things for their favorite teams, but one young fan of the Indian national cricket team took his devotion to an extreme where the word “fan” — as in, “fanatic” — definitely applies.
As any sports fan, or anyone who has a devoted fan for a friend or loved one knows, some of the weird things that the true fan will do in the superstitious belief that he’s somehow helping his beloved team are pretty insane.
We’re talking, wearing the same underwear for days or weeks on end, sitting in the exact same spot on the couch and never moving until the game’s over, eating the exact same meal while watching every game — that sort of thing.
But hopefully, no one will ever do what one unfortunate young man in the southern India state of Tamil Nadu did on Thursday, in the painfully mistaken belief that it would help turn his team’s fortunes around.
The sport of cricket — a bat-and-ball game created in England centuries ago, and which bears at least a passing resemblance to baseball — is pretty far down on the list of America’s favorite sports.
But in India, cricket is something close to a national religion, and Indians — not only in their home country but around the world — follow the game with a passion.
And their greatest passion is reserved for the Indian national team. For example, a World Cup match played in February between India and Pakistan drew 288 million viewers in India. That’s 174 million more than tuned in to watch the most recent Super Bowl in the United States, even though with 114 million viewers, that game was the most-watched TV broadcast in American history.
So when India was playing a match against Australia in the 2015 Cricket World Cup semifinal on Thursday, million of Indians were riveted to their TV sets.
As a result, when the Indian cricketers found themselves in a deep hole, needing an intimidating 329 runs to win after Australia finished its batting (a typical target score would be in the mid-200 range), hearts all over India sank.
One 21-year-old youth, identified in the Indian press only by the name Sudhakar, decided he had to do something about it.
According to the Hindustan Times, during the lengthy between innings interval — sort of like halftime in a football game — he ran to a nearby religious temple in his village of Ponneri to make an offering to the local god.
For some reason that authorities there have not yet been able to determine, he decided to sacrifice his tongue.
Using a knife, Sudhakar tried to cut his tongue out, in hopes that the deity would accept his sacrifice and grant India an outpouring of scoring in the match. He succeeded in cutting off only the tip of his tongue.
But unfortunately, the slice was enough to leave Sudhakar unable to speak clearly.
His family did not bring the missing piece of tongue to the hospital, after their sun came home pouring blood from his mouth, which meant that doctors had no hope of reconstructing his tongue. For the youth to speak clearly again will take years of therapy, they say.
Adding insult to injury, Sudhakar’s tongue sacrifice did nothing for the Indian cricket team, which could not even come close to topping Australia’s score and was quietly eliminated from the World Cup.
[Image: Getty Images]