Monday, May 16, 2016

Golden Goose


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Whether the success of the Indian Premier League (IPL) resides in its format or Bollywood-isation, it cannot be denied that the IPL is a phenomenon. Neither controversy nor match fixing seem to dampen its bounce. Now that the IPL’s governing council has made a strong pitch to shift the IPL to either the UAE or South Africa, it is time to reflect.
The Indian Premier League has come a long way since the fifties when watching test matches was as leisurely as watching a glorious sunset. Back then, cricket was best represented by an old bra – no cups and hardly any support. Over the years, like films, cricket has become all about entertainment, entertainment and entertainment.

For understandable reasons, the IPL is perceived to be a Tamasha. That’s amusing, but wrong. What is touted as Tamasha is in fact, serious business. According to the BCCI, the 2015 season of IPL contributed Rs 11.5 billion to the GDP of our economy. When you have a golden goose there is a mad scramble to claim the eggs. Controversies abound. In an attempt to steady the IPL innings, the BCCI introduced new teams and removed the rotting fish. And yet, the cup of IPL woes runneth over. The Lodha Committee recommendations have ensured that playing IPL with a straight bat is not going to be easy on a spinning home turf.

One of the abiding ironies is that cricket fans love cricket but love to hate the cricket governing body. Perception rules. Consequently, every political controversy like Indo-Pak ties (Dharamsala match) and Marthwada (matches shifted out of Maharashtra) drought washes up on the shores of the IPL. A volley of PILs have stumped the IPL. Adding to the discomfort is the ED surveillance on alleged Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) violations.

Nonetheless, the IPL is a home grown brand that needs to be nurtured even if it requires regular weeding. Worldwide, sporting leagues have contributed towards their respective sport. Like football and basketball, Indian cricket players are making more money by participating in the league games instead of playing international games.
You could shrug and say, how does the venue matter? After all, the IPL had moved to South Africa and UAE on two occasions. Fine. But would English Premier League (EPL) be as popular if it was, say, played in Singapore? Will someone in South Africa be as proud as apna Delhi-ite watching Delhi Daredevils walk in? An average middle class Indian was stingy when it came to shelling big money to watch a game. IPL changed that in one straight drive. Financial backing by big brands added to the brand value of the tournament. Let’s face it - sport thrives on sponsorship and money.

If and when the golden goose flies away, TV contracts and sweetheart deals with owners and the BCCI might benefit cricketers, but will it benefit an average cricket fan? More significantly, should we ignore that IPL was the trigger for various sporting leagues in Kabaddi, Tennis and Badminton? Should we forget that IPL is a fertile breeding ground for young talent? Should we disregard that IPL has ensured the maintenance and upkeep of many stadiums? Should we not care for what IPL does for tourism in tier-two cities?
It is unfortunate that ‘Indian Peoples League’ has become controversial punching bag. A brand that debuted with a bang in India shouldn’t go out with a whimper.  
 
(Full article in Diplomacy&Beyond)


29 comments:

  1. All valid points. Wonder where IPL is heading. As a fan, I would never want that to happen. Last year I watched DD VS KKR at Delhi and and it was a heartwarming feeling to see KKR win. It is another fact that seeing Delhites lose in Delhi wasn't a pretty sight :P All said and done, I don't want IPL to be exported out of the country for many reasons. One of them being a chance to spot SRK in a stadium sometime :)

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    1. You did? Great. I am yet to watch a live IPL match as I am not a cricket buff. But for once, there is some sort of entertainment on hot summer evenings other than watching movies. It's one of a kind home grown brand and controversies shouldn't kill it.

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  2. I feel its ridiculous to shift IPL out of India and there are other places in India that can host the games. sadly, the money-making mafia is calling the shots and the people will lose on entertainment. A great post made.

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    1. You said it. There's big money. Big pull.

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  3. A pity if the IPL moves out. On a more mundane line of thought, is the terrible Indian climate an underlying reason for shift? Leave alone the foriegn players, even our own boys can't survive such inhospitable weather conditions. A great take on the situation Alka. Comparing cricket of the past with an old bra....hehehe, wicked ;)

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    1. Thanks Kala. Weather is harsh but we've hosted several successful seasons. Controversies, pulls and pressures due to big money could perhaps be the reason for a shift.

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  5. Perhaps they are aiming for the NRI community that's more patriotic than Indians living in India. And nothing represents India's pride more than cricket.

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    1. There's big money involved. Doubt if foreign players are accepting money in rupees. Other than PILs, money management could be one of the reasons for the shift.

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  6. Still chuckling at this rather apt metaphor - "Back then, cricket was best represented by an old bra – no cups and hardly any support. "
    A very valid and honest post, Alka. It wouldn't be much of an 'Indian' premiere league if it was shifted out; plus the money involved is huge; of course, controversy is part of anything where there's lots of money involved.

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    1. The season, thankfully, ended without a controversy!
      Always good to see you here.

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  7. I am not a fan of the format, but the GDP contribution is huge. It should stay in India for sure.

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    1. Me neither. But it's a home grown brand.

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  8. I hardly ever watch any IPL match and would not care much if it moved out. Of course there will be lots of revenue. I think lPL also gives good chance to lndian youngsters to make their mark and play with some of the best players.

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    1. I am not a fan either but it provides several oppertunities for young talent, not to forget the upkeep of stadiums. Plus revenue, tourism and a source of entertainment.

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  9. I hardly ever watch any IPL match and would not care much if it moved out. Of course there will be lots of revenue. I think lPL also gives good chance to lndian youngsters to make their mark and play with some of the best players.

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  10. There is now too much cricket to digest:( Anyway, a lovely post like always!

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  11. Nice write up and so apt for the hour! I lost interest in IPL years ago when the first match fixing report came out.

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    1. Ditto. Thanks for stopping by Anita.

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  12. Its not about cricket any more I think.It's all about money !

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    1. The moral of a market place is to make money! Purists love this format too. But gone are the days of test matches.

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  13. Its not about cricket any more I think.It's all about money !

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  14. That's throwing the baby with the bathwater...abroad :)

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  15. Hi, Am david Lynne- Am not a fan of cricket. But i like Your post.Thanks for share this post alka Gurha. keep it sharing new things.good luck.


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