How good a friend are you? When it comes to competitive sports, injuries, heartbreaks and superhuman achievements are all in the mix. Yet, it is those with long careers like Cristiano Ronaldo, Novak Djokovic or MS Dhoni who are remembered. One such hero in rugby, a sport not followed much in India, is Kevin Sinfield. And his story is special. “The extra mile’ makes you spare a thought for those sportspersons who lose their careers to injury or illness? Rugby athlete Rob Burrow is one such person. Do they have to settle for a lifetime of pity parties? Or can there be more? Here are our bookstrapping insights: 1. The most important thing to note is that ‘The Extra Mile’ is not a book about rugby. It's a book about humanity, compassion and what you will do for someone who’s not as lucky as you are.
2. What's the premise of the book? Our author, rugby legend Kevin Sinfield and his team-mate Rob Burrow were stars on the international rugby stage. And then, Rob Burrow was diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND) in December 2019. What is MND? Think Stephen Hawking. Normally, a lot of sympathy would be expressed towards Rob and then people would’ve moved on. But Kevin Sinfield did not move on! Then what did he do?
3. The book is a gripping account of how Sinfield stood by his former team-mate. He set himself a series of extraordinary endurance challenges, including running seven ultra marathons in seven days and over 100 miles in a single day, to raise awareness and millions of pounds for the cause of MND.
4. Sinfield has said, “When something like that happens to a friend you want to help, and I have to say a number of that team have gone above and beyond with fundraising attempts in the way we've come together and supported each other.” But how often does this happen?
5. In an interview, Sinfield spoke about the book. "I never wanted to write a book. I don't particularly like running either, but that's the influence Rob has had on me…..I’m quite a private person, but also I didn't want just another sports book out there which was very 'samey' to everything else out there!
There’s nothing ‘samey’ about this book and the world could do with more Kevin Sinfields. He came second behind former lawn tennis world no.1 Andy Murray on the BBC Sports Personality of the year awards in 2022. That's probably also a function of viewership metrics. Here’s to celebrating compassion.