Even with billions in American Football, the game has not crossed America’s borders. Here is Running back DeShaun Foster (20) of the Carolina Panthers scores on a 33 yard touchdown run against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas. | Getty Images File Photo
hich American sport has been able to graduate into the global league? NBA finals? Major League Baseball (MLB)? NFL’s Super Bowl? These are the three biggest sporting events in the USA – which are domestic US events – with little TV viewership outside the US.
Across The World
The biggest sporting events in the world – Olympics, World Cup Football, Tennis Grand Slam, the F1 auto Grand Prix, are all events that were created by Europeans – and that have gained international buy-in and participation.
Not truly global, are top events in badminton, squash, table-tennis, volleyball, cricket that are second-level events with limited participation, viewership and following.
In Our League
Among the BRICS nations, Russia, South Africa, China or Brazil do not ‘politically’ dominate any sport, the way India dominates over cricket.
Even before the 1983 Cricket World Cup began, that India won, the future of the cricket world cup was in jeopardy. Without sponsors, the ‘politically’ dominant ECB and Australian Cricket Board, (now Cricket Australia), pronounced the Cricket World Cup dead.
The 1983 Indian economy, beginning to feel the benefits of the Bombay High, had also seen the domestic benefit of the 1982 Asian Games. Based on the success of the Asian Games, which saw a dramatic expansion of TV coverage in India, the BCCI made a hesitant pitch at the world cup.
BCCI was able to obtain the support of the Pakistan and Sri Lankan cricket Board in this bid. A rather surprised ECB and ACB allowed this bid to go through – probably sure that BCCI would make a mess of it.
Start Of The Chapter
In the next 4 years, BCCI obtained a sponsor, Reliance, organized the event – and pulled off a successful event. From 1987 onwards, BCCI’s political power has only grown in international cricket.
Twenty years after 1987 Cricket World Cup in India, in 2007, India’s major home-grown TV network, ZEE TV launched the Indian Cricket League – independent of BCCI and ICC.
Without ICC and BCCI support, the ICL was a lame-duck affair. Two years later, the BCCI launched the IPL in 2008.
Let The IPL Begin
After the first few years of hesitant growth, in the last one year, the IPL has truly changed world cricket. A few important international players have abandoned their domestic teams – and made IPL their main earning opportunity.
The hold of non-Indian cricket boards over their players has weakened considerably – as the IPL earning opportunity is an alternative. Though no player has explicitly stated this, when pushed by domestic boards to choose between national team and their IPL earning opportunity, some chose to go with IPL.
The Numbers, The Spread
With many players from Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies and fewer players from England, New Zealand, Pakistan Bangladesh and Zimbabwe, IPL has attracted international player attention.
With 8-9 teams, between 65-80 games, some 250 players, with nearly a quarter of the players international, with support staff that draws the best from the world, the IPL has become a significant sporting opportunity in its sixth year itself.
Such growth in stature and with system-wide revenues exceeding Rs.2500 crores (US$500 million), ensures that IPL in the next few years will be in the Top10 global sporting events. This figure of Rs.2500 crores (US$500 million) includes TV rights, advertising, franchise fees, ticket sales, player fees, IPL merchandise. All this without any funds or regulatory support from the Government.
Between Envy And Vacuity
Already a world leader in the film industry, for a country like India, to define, create and deliver this kind of sporting event, with its softpower implications, has aroused equal amounts of admiration and envy. While viewership data in non-Indian markets is not yet available, based on player statements, it is significant.
It is time that BCCI takes the IPL more seriously – and importantly the mainstream media and the Government too, must handle IPL with some maturity. The amount of police enthusiasm, media noise around the recent alleged spot-fixing, exposed the complete lack of judgement.
A quiet phone call while the tournament was going on – and hard actions later would have ensured that the IPL success was not compromised as it has been now.
MS Dhoni (CSK) and Ricky Ponting (MI) with Danny Morrison at MI vs CSK 49th Match Highlights IPL 2013 – 5 May
Smell The Coffee
The silly moral posturing on a simple sporting entertainment shows mental vacuity – especially in the mainstream and the social media. The chatteratti, twitteratti, FaceBookeratti, the Libtards and the Righturds have great enthusiasm in out-doing each other in empty moral indignation.
This moral noise, by those with negligible achievements of their own, over alleged questionable behavior exposes their mental vacuity. These questionable actions by probably 10 people is not representative or reflective of the effort and achievements of the 1000 people who are behind the IPL event (mainly players, coaches, support staff, franchise managers, media staff, stadium staff, BCCI administrators).
All that is needed is that these 10 people are adequately and significantly dealt with – post-facto. After the event. This unholy haste, while the tournament is in progress smacks of envy and immaturity.
Thankfully, Bharat understands this – and will turn out in gargantuan numbers today evening, and crown the winners of a magnificent event.
If India does not start behaving with maturity, be warned. Bharat will simply cast you aside – and consign you to the dustbin of history.
Time India took itself seriously.