Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monetisation of cricket
Now that I am home, my TV viewing is strictly regulated, so is my social life: yes, it’s back to the good old days of “what NOT to do”, but given it’s my last vacation, I am being the bigger person here, and giving in to my dad’s “ridiculous” demands and deadlines. Ahem, ahem!
And yes, I am also subjected to the double torture of IPL and Elections: that’s all my dad follows on TV, and follows it to excruciating details. So yes, I watch ALL (and I mean, ALL) election specials on NDTV (as well as their repeat telecasts) and if I am not watching the mud slinging in the name of politics, I am forced to watch another circus in the name of IPL, a poor cousin of the English Premier League.
Now people who have known me since childhood will swear by my cricket fanaticism, the days I spent glued in front of the TV, scrutinizing each minute of ANY cricket match (even one between Holland and UAE), or a boring day in a test match (when Gary Kirsten and Daryl Cullinan batted the whole day) or in times of desperation, English County matches. I am more the old world kinds who bunked school to sit in the sun in Eden Gardens each time India played, who enjoys the uncorrupted version of cricket (minus the cheerleaders, the glam girls, the noodle straps), who prefers the non-nonsense commentators who talked ONLY cricket (Ian Chappell, Richie Benaud, Geoff Boycott) instead of the dumbed down, Hinglish version in the name of ‘infotainment’, and who failed to move on and “evolve” with the game. Don’t get me wrong, I think the T20 concept rocks, it keeps you hooked and most importantly, unlike the old days, you need not abandon/postpone all your important chores to sit down and enjoy a game of cricket. The shorter version of the game allows you to get your work done AND find enough time to watch the match. What I do not like, however, is the hijacking of television rights by channels who have no business interfering in sports, but the fact that they cater to a larger audience (who derive their daily dose of entertainment from cricket) allows them to do exactly that! Throw in some models, some 30 minutes of pre match “extra innings”, some celebrities and some “slam book” interviews, you have the perfect recipe for keeping an average housewife entertained and therefore adding to your viewership and out goes ESPN, Star Sports, John Dykes and Harsha Bhogle to make way for Set Max, Charu Sharma, Mandira Bedi and the likes.
And to add insult to injury, we now have the IPL which has taken the nation by storm, which gleefully basks in the glory of opulence, which treats players as commodities, which makes headlines for auctioning the most expensive player, which unites Bollywood, business tycoons and cricketers under the common umbrella called “money”, which leaves no room for loyalty and therefore no pride for representation (because you cannot represent money vis-à-vis a country, or even a state) and of course as a follower of the game I am confused about who to support, because my heroes are all playing for different teams, the Pathan brothers are competing against each other and I can’t possibly choose between Sachin and Dravid.
So what if the KKR lost to MI?? I am here to enjoy a fast game and the fast girls…