Cricket: The other side of it…..

In a country where 1.25 billion people treat cricketers as god, it is hard to imagine a factor that can swing the mood of the masses. A game, whose glorious triumph makes us jubilant and joyous and  a defeat  is enough to leave a majority of us in tears.

The game of Cricket has been captivating our emotions, attention and energy. The degree of enthusiasm has grown to such an extent that today it is more than just a game. I, in all fairness, would like to believe, that the game of Cricket has grown from being just a game to being a religion or just shy of it.

People who play it on the global platform become celebrities overnight, earning millions in the process. Each shot; each catch and each wicket is scrutinized by a billion fans. Cricket, in all fairness, has become the single biggest unifying factor in this multi-cultural country of ours.

All of us who happen to be familiar with the history of the sport know that cricket was brought to our shores by the Englishmen, our erstwhile colonial masters. Even today, the game of cricket is played predominantly in the Indian sub-continent i.e. in the countries that were once colonized by The British. India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, The West Indies, Australia, New Zealand have all been either British colonies or British settlements.

Contrary to the popular belief, cricket only adds to the foreign exchequer as it brings in foreign exchange, tourists and brands (in the form of sponsorships). It also creates employment opportunities for all sections of the society, right from the pitch curators to the support staff of the participating teams; the game of cricket generates quite a lot of money. Cricket generates billions in revenue for all those who are associated with it in the entirety of the food chain.

It is true that cricket for long has dominated the Indian sporting arena, but should we criticize it for its success and appeal or should we take a leaf out of its book and look at what’s wrong with other sports? The cricketing bandwagon reached the pinnacle of Indian sporting scene on the back of some consistent performances through the generations on the global platform, both on and off shore. Able administration by the game’s governing body has also helped  matters to quite an extent.

Just look at Australia’s dominance in the world of sports. They’ve won as many as 5 Cricket World Cups; they’ve been world champions in Hockey. The Australian football team is also on the stronger side and above all, the Aussies have got an impressive and a rather envious record at mega   sporting events such as The Olympics as well as The Commonwealth Games and all this with just a population of 23.6 million.

If a country with a population of 23.6 million can excel and perform in a wide variety of sports simultaneously, why can’t we? Furthermore, the argument that cricket has occupied all the space in the public psyche is just not true because in an era of consumerism there is enough space and scope for other sports to flourish and prosper. So, it won’t be wrong to say that Cricket, in all fairness, can coexist with other sports.

An argument about the game of cricket would be incomplete without a mention of the star studded Indian Premier League. IPL, since its birth in 2008, has been a much-criticized evil. IPL has boosted the coffers of other sports by showcasing how to package and sell a sport to the people. The Pro Kabaddi  League, The Hockey India League and the Indian Super League are the off springs of the IPL, coming into being only after people got confident after the overwhelming success of the cash-rich Indian Premier League.

Broadcasters who were shy and sceptical about the success of other sports have come forward and helped. Business houses can now smell an opportunity to earn profit and, in turn, provide the much-needed ‘star power’ required for an event to succeed. Glamour quotient cannot be sidelined over here. How can we even think of a sporting event without the presence of Bollywood biggies like SRK and Amitabh Bachchan. With the franchise based league system, domestic players get to play alongside world-class players. Budding talents get to play in state-of-the-art stadiums and in this way, get a much-needed opportunity to showcase their talents and skills. The crowds get to know and see some of the lesser known players. Investments are made in order to give birth to professional sporting leagues ad in this way, impetus is added to the dreams of youngsters.

The truth may sound a bit absurd, but cricket, and of course, the IPL have provided other sports with a new lease of life. Now, with all the financial backing coming in, it is for these sports to cash in on the opportunities that are being provided by performing on the national as well as on the international platforms on a regular and consistent basis., so as to get the love and adulation of the masses.

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