Sunday, March 25, 2007

Obtituaries of a Car and a Team

Death of Car

My car (an antiquated Eagle Talon) has passed away. This post is being written in its memory. There shall be no funeral and cremation. It will be unceremoniously trashed in some junkyard. You see, a couple of days prior to D( Death ) -Day, the car was doing fine, save a mildly disconcerting low frequency noise when the steering wheel was operated. So, the vehicle was driven to Houston and back at speeds around the speed limit. The car held up. In hindsight, that was a miracle.

And then next day, it's drizzling a bit : and we're at that benign parking lot at H-E-B where the car is moving. And all of a sudden, I realize that it is no longer on four wheels but is actually on three. Further investigations showed that one of the wheels, in a brazen display of gross insubordination to the engine of the vehicle, decided to go its on way - separating from the axle after breaking some critical components.

After a rather panicky call to the AAA guys, the car was towed to a Firestone (a grossly overpriced automotive repair chain in the U.S.) . The next morning, the price of the repair was quoted to be of the order of the price one would get on selling the god-forsaken vehicle (after repairs). Futile attempts to get the repair done were quashed by wiser counsels, who did not seem forgive the car for almost killing one and all.

The car, at this moment in time has been pulled from Firestone and is currently languishing in the parking lot of my apartment complex. Attempts to resurrect the same using other mechanics (for half the cost) have come under attack too - for the aforementioned wiser counsels contend that the resurrected vehicle might physically ascend to heaven (along with all passengers carried within) in around 40 days from the date of resurrection.

The death of the vehicle forced one to rent another to do some mandatory travel. We used a Jeep Liberty, as all the smaller vehicles were out of stock. This "other" vehicle, in my opinion, is one of the causes of all the problems in the world today. It is causing the Iraq war by demanding and guzzling oil. It is spitting out lethal amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere heating up the world. I am trying to make up for all the pollution caused by the vehicle by riding my cycle to work - even to Turbolab, which is 4 miles away.

Death of a Team

More startling than the perishment (sic.) of my car was the recent perishment (sick.) of the Indian team in the West Indies - first against Bangladesh and then against Sri Lanka. As a matter of fact, the two most populous cricketing nations, India and Pakistan crashed out of the world cup. This is, in my opinion, a farce of astronomical proportions perpetrated on the general populace of both the nations by monopolistic cricket boards. Because, if you choose the best from a billion people, then you ought to produce a better team than choosing from 20 million people (Australia).

Only an absolute idiot or an absolute optimist would ever want their children to play professional (first class) cricket in India, because of probability of success is almost zero. Being good at sport will not get you anywhere. Engineers and Doctors can be relied on to put food on the table, not first class cricketers.

A business model that respects the talented and pays then enough to take the game seriously is the most important need of the hour. And it's not as if this model is unheard of. Consider this. This is a shameful Statistic. Since we all agree that regional cricket matches in India are not really a crowd magnet,

Number of ODI tickets sold in India per year = 15 * 30,000 = 4.5 lakh
Number of "Football" tickets sold by Texas A&M Univiersity in College Station = 6 * 82,000 ~ 4.5 lakh again!

The number of ODI tickets sold by India (which by far exceed any other sport in India) ~ Number of Tickets sold by a large American University for its team for its most popular sports. And consider this. There's a lot of other universities in this country. There's a lot of other sports (basketball comes to Mind). And this is just "college athletics" There's also professional athletics, which is much more popular than college athletics in the US.

India is a MASSIVELY UNDERTAPPED MARKET when it comes to cricket - or sport in general. There's a lot of big bucks to be made if some entrepreneur comes up with a more effective business model - maybe of a more compact model of cricket (20-20, perhaps?). The BCCI monopoly should be challenged. And this should be done by revoking the BCCI's exclusive license to represent India.


Srihari said...

Sorry abt the car. Not sorry abt the team, I witnessed their destruction.Regarding the point you bring up on the spectator numbers, you're missing the point completely: the audience for cricket in India is predominantly television based, and that's where big money comes in.

Rap said...

Of course, that I cannot deny.

But one must also bear in mind that the audience is also T.V based in the U.S. I do agree the analogy is not perfect.

There are so many games going on here that the overall T.V ad revenues here are a couple of orders of magnitude than those in India - even after you adjust for PPP. The Aggie analogy was used more for dramatic effect. Just to emphasize that India is a massively undertapped market when it comes to sport. Just 10 - 15 games a year - give me a break! And that too, some are tremendously boring test matches.

The point is, I am sure, ultimately, you will see local matches gain more prominence than international cricket. It is a more robust business model. It will probably happen to the more spectator friendly 20-20 version of the game. I don't think the Industry would like to take a gamble - and suffer like it did this year.

If I had more time and money, I would certainly invest in local 20-20 cricket in India. I am not keeping this idea secret because I am not in a position to do anything about it. As a matter of fact, all readers are welcome to borrow this idea and use it if they see the merit in this.

And I do not think the quality of the game will fall. If Bangladesh and Sri Lanka can beat the stuffing out of a billion people, I am sure a team from Bihar or UP can beat the national team! Or Goa, for that matter.

Rap said...

Zee TV seems to have done something on the lines of what I have been suggesting.

That's great news. I hope that cricket will live again in India.