Low Kean Yew is the reigning men’s singles world champion in badminton. He’s single-handedly accomplished what nobody in Singapore has ever done before. Singaporeans are damn proud of him with the public donating a ton of money for his efforts.
The wellspring of support for Low is incredible and inspiring, everybody’s talking about his accomplishments and how proud we are of him…but it sadly won’t last.
…and that makes me sad.
Watching Ghostbusters Afterlife yesterday (combined with Low’s lack of reward money) has made me realize that Singaporeans (and modern humanity as a whole) treat our champions as commodities.
In Ghostbuster Afterlife, we find out that the Ghostbusters, who saved New York (and humanity) TWICE are treated as saviors but are instead forgotten and ignored despite what they’ve done. No recognition for their services after the initial praises, nobody even really remembers what they’ve done!
It reminded me of Singaporeans and how they first cheered and then jeered Joseph Schooling after his performances at the 2016 and 2021 Olympics respectively.
We use them, bask in their glory and then toss them aside when they’ve outstayed their welcome.
We should be better than that.
I’m not saying we should adopt hero worship into our culture but perhaps a little more graciousness and societal memory of what our champions have accomplished should always be acknowledged, whether it’s a year from now or twenty.
Writing their feats down into our history is fine, but shouldn’t we show more appreciation to them in substantive ways even after their glory days? Off the top of my head? Maybe an annual stipend of some sort for their lifetime?
It doesn’t have to be much, but it’s at least something that recognizes that contribution even after they’re no longer hot stuff. Don’t our champions deserve that much at least?