Nav Bhatia, the “Raptors Superfan’ had to endure a really racist twitter comment from a Milwaukee Bucks fan. The tweet read: “Who’s the more annoying #Raptors fan? Drake or the fat Indian guy with the underwear on his head.” The tweet was later deleted and Nav Bhatia displayed graciousness by not only forgiving the Milwaukee Bucks fan but announced that the next time he is in Milwaukee, he would like to take the him out for dinner.
In a media interview, Bhatia said that he believed sports can unite everyone is why he forgave him, CTV reported on Monday. The user’s account was deleted after he was condemned by Brampton MP Raj Grewal and a raft of Bucks fans.
Bhatia added: “I felt bad for him actually. I felt sad for him and, you know, two days later he called me and apologized,” adding that the Bucks fan acknowledged his comments had been stupid.
Bhatia hasn’t missed a Raptors home game since the team started playing in 1995, and often travels to away games to cheer Toronto on too. Throughout his nearly 25 years of cheering on the Raptors, he’s accumulated quite a fanbase of his own.
Bhatia said he wasn’t surprised with the outpouring of support from Raptors and Bucks fans when he responded to the tweet.
“We are Canadians. We know when somebody goes low, we go high.”
By choosing to forgive rather than express outrage and anger, Nav Bhatia did the right thing and with the result ended up shaming the fan who posted that racist tweet and earning the respect and admiration of many more people who may not even have heard about him before this incident.
In an interview with Can-India, Bhatia recalled that back in 1999 there were just six to seven South Asians at Raptor games and a couple if any Sikhs with turbans. “Today there are close to 3,000 South Asian Raptor fans who come out to support the team,” he said.
Most other victims of racism would wallow in self-pity, the Raptors Superfan is using his time in the spotlight to identify a problem that is of our (South Asian) own making. “We South Asians tend to be close minded, we don’t like to go to mainstream events, we are only stuck with our Kabbadi and other cultural events. I was the first to do a Baisakhi Day of basketball. Each year the Superfan purchases three thousand tickets for Sikh children and youth during Baisakhi and Diwali spending a small fortune on tickets for other people.
He has also started the Nav Bhatia Superfan foundation, where his goal is to “unite people of all ages and backgrounds through the game of basketball.”
Bhatia believes we need to make our presence felt in the mainstream, not just in politics but in other mainstream events.
“We should be invited to more mainstream events, but better still we should not wait for the invites, we should just go and attend these events and make our presence felt. That way other Canadians and Americans get to know us and vice-versa,” he said.
The racist tweet has had the effect of making Nav Bhatia resolve to do even more to ensure Sikhs and the South Asian community are a visible presence at mainstream events. -CINEWS