Yuvraj Singh's Cancer Comeback

Yuvraj Singh has always been in the news whether it is about hitting 6 sixes in the inaugural twenty20 world cup ’07, spearheading India in the Natwest Final’02 & the World Cup’11 triumph or for his personal life about women and marriage. But this time around, he’d made the headlines for something which was beyond sport, money and sex. Yuvraj Singh was the cynosure of all eyes as he started his journey back to international cricket after a 9-month long absence due to cancer. Having inspired a billion people including the ones who are not even remotely connected to the game, Yuvraj Singh stood on the cricket field after defying all the odds – undaunted and carefree. He became the darling of world cricket.

Sport critics often talk about how nothing or nobody is bigger than the game but despite all the criticism over his sympathy-driven selection and the loss against New Zealand, Yuvraj Singh proved that he was bigger than cricket on that particular day.

Now, the big question that arises from a Sports Business view is whether it is right or wrong for companies to cash in on a sportsman’s suffering?

The rule of life is that when you’re at the peak of your career, everyone wants a piece of you but when you go down, you go down all by yourself, alone. That’s how human beings, business and the world functions.

Whether we talk about Dave Callaghan, South African Cricketer of the 80s or the famous Cyclist, Lance Armstrong – their sponsors withdrew them as their brands’ ambassadors and moved on while they were still suffering from cancer. Revital, a health supplement brand with Yuvraj as their ambassador had slowed down their promotions and advertisements when reports mentioned about his tumor.

Later, Yuvraj started tweeting about his health and posting photos during each and every stage of his treatment. And so critics started raising questions as to why did India’s cricket hero needed publicity to keep his brand value intact? In Yuvraj’s defense, he did it to end all the speculation about his health issues for his fans since Indians have always been involved in conversing about the private lives of film stars or sports celebrities.

His image has also changed from the party animal, flashy womanizer to a serious, matured individual and a real-life fighter that has resulted in brand extensions, hence, more endorsement offers.
Birla Sun Life Insurance is currently broadcasting a commercial about Yuvraj’s story to spread awareness as well as promote their brand. “It is a reality of life. And we do not see Yuvraj Singh as just a brand ambassador, but far more — as our philosophy ambassador”, said Ajay Kakkar, Chief Marketing Officer, Aditya Birla Group.

It would be unfair to generalize that everybody is trying to cash in on his misfortune. For instance, TV Channel Colors will be airing a 3-part series “Zindagi Abhi Baaki Hai” where he will be narrating his experience with cancer. All the sales proceeds will be going to the “YOUWECAN” Foundation that works towards cancer awareness. This campaign is not being aired to seek publicity like other social-problem related shows or get high ratings. It is to spread awareness, provide hope and inspire the entire country through Yuvraj - a recent victim, whom we follow, worship and idolize.

Lance Armstrong after setting up his cancer foundation “Livestrong”, recently remarked that he’d only take up those endorsements that are meant to help society or cancer patients.

The point in question is that if it takes a victimized cricketer and a few money minting brands to relieve people from the misery and chaos surrounding one of the largest causes of deaths in our country, then it just doesn’t seem justified and acceptable but necessary for all those being affected.

What happens to Yuvraj – The Cricketer or The Brand is a thing of the future. But he has intensified the emotional connect significantly not through his performance or personality but for showing tremendous courage of conviction and willpower as a human being.


  1. Excellent read. Truly showing your passion for sports. Write something on football now.

  2. Good article on sports


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