Disclaimer: I’m NOT a die-hard Indian fan of cricket. I like and respect it for being another great sport like hockey, tennis, basketball or soccer.
Chennai’s assault against Bangalore last Thursday evening was nothing short of a stunner. So much that its joy added to the Tamil New year celebrations on Friday. Milliseconds after watching the triumph on TV, I grabbed my Mac to log into Facebook and like all the pages, wall-posts and status-updates that roared for the Super Kings.
The win obviously brought in praise from the CSK fan community online, but there were also the occasional comments by people bashing the revered Indian Premiere League. Wait, they aren’t the football-loving cricket-hating gang. These ones are from the haters-for-sake-of-hating squad. All of them whining about the evil money making machine and commercial demon that the IPL supposedly is. I’ve observed this group of people ever since IPL started, and for the most part, their argument seems logical. Not.
Yeah, you heard me right. IPL is one of the best things that has happened to India as a country lately. Bashing it purely on the basis of a few controversies is a lame thing to do. In that case, we’d have to hate mobile phones, spiritual gurus, and even sex. Because in India, controversy is part of almost everything – it’s pretty much a way of life. Although TRP ratings have fallen (marginally) over the years, that’s mainly because we’ve been suffering a cricket overdose. On that point I will concede, because even I believe that “too much of anything is good for nothing”. But saying that IPL sucks on the whole due to that is blasphemous.
Marvelous Money Machine
There is a lot of money in the game. True. And what’s wrong with that? That we don’t have this kind of moolah in hockey or soccer? On the flip side, USA has loads of cash in basketball but why hasn’t it used some of that to develop cricket there? Or Nigeria in hockey? It’s not only the pompous BCCI that is cashing in from IPL. In all nine cities, it’s spun a makeshift economic cycle. From ball pickers, to attendants, drivers, cleaners and security staff, who’d otherwise be unemployed in stadiums that mostly lie idle. It’s employed a humongous amount of blue-collar labour. I understand that a lot of it may be black money, but since our netas continually flop in trying to stop black money trading, isn’t this a better way in keeping that money translucent at least, than shipping it to someone’s personal Swiss account? Unless, say you’re of the kind who’d stop reading this now, to go and overthrow the government!
The corporate saga of IPL, though a little overdone (only from the ad-banner point of view), still isn’t anything that could be termed a “commercial hungama”. Think rationally. Money is important and business houses back every successful sporting league on this planet. It happens right from the EPL to the NBA. And economically, that’s a no-brainer because no kind of game can generate enough money by ticket sales alone. Corporate sponsorship is great. For Indian companies, seeing their brand being displayed on an international stage must be a moment of elation. As for the multinationals, we should be proud of how almost all of them take interest in the Indian market, reaching the customer in the best possible way. Volkswagen and Vodafone are perfect examples.
Tapping the Talent
IPL has burst open a huge talent lock. For cricketers, we’ve certainly had the Ranji Trophy and the like but IPL makes it a lot more streamlined, accessible and delightful, especially the way local talent is allowed to groom and rub shoulders with international talent. Its given society a great opportunity to like international players, appreciate them, and move away from the sense of sadistic pleasure derived from laughing at the OZies for just one national ODI win against them. But IPL has moved beyond cricketers. Those adorable Zoozoo’s and the series of leg-pulling Virgin adverts were creations by Indian brains. IPL provides a recognizable platform for such display of talent.
International appeal. This is by far the best thing IPL has done for us, and also my favorite argument. For a country that is always stereotyped by the international media in a negative light, IPL has stunned the world about how modern India can be as rich and exquisite too. We’re not just about curry or slumdog shitholes. We can drink, dance and party. We can have fun, and we can produce the baap of fun. We can also make more money in just five years, than you could only dream of, while having all this fun. Thus, international participants – players, officials, and technical staff – have tasted the richness in cultural diversity that we have, and not to mention, all the pampering and love. Its how we love to treat our guests, and I’m sure they’re glad about being part of IPL. It has also shown our organization capabilities. IPL is one perfect example to show the coming of Indian dominance. And I love that beyond description!
Certainly, IPL has had its problems. The principal one being the scam it created, but everyone has gotten over that. Personally, I only miss Lalit Modi as the head honcho. Yes, I love charismatic, autocratic leaders – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Lalit Modi. They don’t sit like suit-clad wussies in AC cabins making presentations about what went wrong. They have the charisma, and they make things happen. Mr. Modi brought the IPL for us, and at least I’m happy about that.
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