Saturday, July 01, 2006

We Love a Boring Game

This is a re-hashed version of an old post. Self Plagiarism?
This has been posted due to its pertinence; and also due to the fact that very few people will actually read the original post now, since it is buried in the bowels of this blog, a region as inaccessible as - Alpha Centauri for the average humanoid from Earth.

It takes two hours for a foot-ball match to happen.
It takes roughly the same time for a basketball match to occur.
Tennis matches seldom take more than the same couple of hours.
But cricket, in its purest form, takes five days. Its "shorter" form takes a day.

India is in love with cricket; like it is in love with no other game. Football is popular in pockets (and in the upper middle class); tennis is elitist; basket ball is unheard of.

India ( a nation of 1,00,00,000 people) pins its hopes on 15 people. These 15 people are celebrities. And to get to be one of the 15 people, one needs to be a bloody genius.

Sports is certainly not a career option for any Indian. There is no money in sports; there is very little incentive for the poor person to actually try to be a part of any sporting team. With a success rate of 15 / 10000000, only an idiot would not err on the side of safety. Only an Idiot (or a very rich guy) would harbour notions of playing for India one fine day. Playing state level will not put enough in your wallet.

If India wants out of this rut, then India will have do one of the following:

1. Discard cricket as the de-facto national game. Foot-ball seems promising?
2. Change cricket to a more compact, watchable format. Turn games between states and cities into popular commercial ventures. Make people of Tamil Nadu (say) cheer for their team in the stadium / at home. Games between Mumbai and Delhi should elicit similar emotions that games Between India and Pakistan do. A more interesting game will draw more viewers; more advertising opportunities; better salaries; better talent - and finally a team that no one can beat.

And don't say that the Indian is poor. Don't say that he cannot afford to watch these matches. He watches movies, doesn't he? He watches regional TV channels, doesn't he? The viewership market in middle class India is Tremendously undertapped.

I tell you, we're sitting on a goldmine here. We're still in the License-Raj era of sports in India. The rules of cricket need some liberalization. It will take an equivalent of Manmohan Singh to do something. Perhaps we could take our humiliation by the West Indies as a balance of payments crisis.

Sherry, are you listening, or has the fat lady sung for Indian sport?

1 comment:

Akhilesh said...

That should have been 100,00,00,000 people. Big blunder. Sorry.