Indian Americans in Sports

Indian Americans in Sports

July 27, 2013

When MR approached me about writing a 500-700 word post about Indian Americans in sports, my initial thought was I’m going to be about 490-690 words shy of his request. The list is a short one featuring former Packers linebacker Brandon Chillar, former Rangers first round pick Manny Maholtra (I know he’s from Canada but an Indian man on ice skates deserves to be on this list, especially if his professional career was featured in the U.S.), Olympic medal-winning gymnasts Raj Bhavsar and Mohini Bhardwaj, and Tennis player Rajeev Ram. (ok, I may break the triple digit word count)


In all seriousness, there are not many of us sweating in a weight room, trying to gain a competitive edge on the playing field while expanding a bank account. But there’s hope.


At least a couple times a month, I hear stories about an Indian kid doing something on the high school level, whether that’s dropping 25 points on the basketball court or buzzing an ace on the tennis court to seal a win, we’re slowly getting there. Some of that has to do with how many Indian parents are starting to understand the impact that sports can play at an early age in developing an all around person.


Let’s face it, lifestyle habits and the quick assimilation in social circles also play a role on why there is more growth in this area than we’ve ever seen in previous generations of Indians in America.  Body type and commitment are also factors. Not many of us keep growing, like a uncut weed, as the case for 7-5 Sim Bhullar and his younger brother 7-3 Tanveer (I know both hail from Canada but they play an American sport and darn it, when an Indian is taller than Shaq, all of us can claim him as one of our own).


Sim’s name will be gaining more prominence later this year when college basketball tips off in the Fall. He plays at New Mexico State and is coming off a season where he averaged 10 points and 6 rebounds as a freshman. He’s still learning the game and he’s only going to get better and bigger. There was a glimpse of that during his Conference postseason run and first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in March.  His brother just recently committed to join him. Now that’s something to talk about: a 7-5 big man playing with his 7-3 young brother on the same college team.


And with each drive to the rim or devastating block in the middle, what these two centers are doing is showcasing the evolution of our culture. The potential growth they possess and a nation of young kids who dream to be the next Big thing.


How did I come to that conclusion? A few years ago, an Indian-American journalist shared a story about her young brother. He wanted to become a sportscaster and their mom vehemently opposed that line of thinking. Her dream, like most Indian-American mothers was for her son to become a Doctor. She quizzed him, “Show me one Indian who is on TV talking about sports?”. He grabbed the remote, flipped the channel to ESPN and there I was, on camera, just doing my job on SportsCenter. After a brief moment of silence, the mom asked her son, how she can help him achieve his dream.


The word total for this post is 585- that is the combined points and rebounds Sim recorded in his first season at New Mexico State.