Dear Fan, You Are Complicit
by Devanshu Mehta
Are you planning to watch the IPL this year? Cheer for CSK? Wear Royals blue? Howl at the auction and moan about your uncapped wonder?
Congratulations. You, my friend, are complicit in a great con. You are guilty.
The next time a spot is fixed, it’s on you. The next time an owner makes a shady side deal, it’s on you. The next time one of the game’s caretakers takes a gamble that’s not cricket, dear reader, you are responsible.
Every time the powers are asked about the sickness in the sport, they respond that we’re giving the people what they want. The people keep watching. The people want the spectacle and we give it to them.
You are the people. You are bought and sold and sold again. The BCCI sells you for a cent. Star Sports buys your eyeballs for pennies, and sells your soul back to Pepsi for a nickel. You are the decimal point in a spreadsheet.
The fastest way to reforming the IPL–and the BCCI–is empty stadiums and dropping TV ratings. If you don’t like what you’re hearing, then don’t watch. Just this year, at least this year. Don’t watch.
Send a message. Withhold your time and attention. It’s all you have.
(Photo credit: duncan)
Have to disagree on the stance taken! Most sports work under the same principle of sponsorship & money going around, so why penalize cricket!
In your perspective, are IPL & Big Bash in the same league and both need to be avoided by fans?
On fixing, I think that this might be true for things like no ball & getting out but fixing an entire match or a bowler saying he will give 20 runs in an over are not practical as I have played cricket too and it is not that easy to hit a six or four as and when you want irrespective of the talent one has. Just being in the ground in front of 50,000 people and trying to pull of a fix requires unique talent, which has to be rare and difficult to do it regularly.
On the owners being complicit in betting, I think the solution is to legalize it and allow players & owners to bet but they cannot bet to lose.
I was talking to a former Indian cricket & selector last year and he indicated that IPL in India is like a family/friends social evening outing where they get to see big stars(like going to a movie), make some new friends, eat food, drink and have some fun and dont really pay too much attention for the type of cricket. Also, IPL on TV has had more women audiences and gives them a break from household chores & soap operas that they are used to watching. Administrators are catering to this segment of the market and there is nothing wrong with it.
All Global Companies have different products for different segments of the market and same applies to Cricket & Sports. So, looking at it holistically and not merely from a nostalgic & selfish standpoint of Test Cricket being affected needs to be looked at keeping in mind global & different segments of the market!
On the one hand, you’ve grossly misunderstood what I’m saying. I’m saying if you want to reform, the quickest way is to stop watching.
On the other hand, you’re condoning player/owner betting, which is the antithetical to everything I hold dear.
And finally, you’re in denial about the reality of fixing.
You are free to keep watching the IPL, you’re getting exactly what you want.
The flip side of that argument is that the sport atrophies and dies.And regenerating interest in a sport that is dying is a bridge too far. Just ask hockey.
Yeah, well if the sport is corrupt and can’t fix itself then this is a just end.
All sport is corrupt.. So, what gives?
Right now, I’m talking about a very specific corruption in a very specific league. In order to reform that particular league, the quickest route is if fans don’t turn up.
I guess my point was why reform at all! And the format is popular, so lets enjoy as long one is happy with it!
If you’re completely happy with the way things are, this letter is not to you :). All hail Srinivasan.
I am not completely happy but given that we get to see a lot more cricket and India reached pinnacle in Test & ODI recently things are good from that perspective.
Also, it is difficult to understand the internal pressures & administration aspects sitting from outside and one needs to get into it the system to bring about change but that is also difficult as AAP government is seeing in Delhi!!
At the very least, one can compare with how other sports are run. And in most respects, cricket administrationfalls short.
True Administrators are not visionary but our focus as fans should be on the players and what happens to a large extent on the field than worry too much on who is the President or Chairman of a particular sports body.
That’s like saying we should focus on our jobs and not worry about who is running our governments.
Not exactly as we get a chance to vote for our government but we have no vote or say on who gets elected to these sports body, which is same as the board of a company selecting Satya Nadella or Tim Cook as CEOs where you and I have no say but we still have use their products!
But that’s precise what I’m saying: you do get to vote. With your dollars, by not buying the product. Ballmer lost his job and MSFT is being shaken up because Windows8 was a dud. One can hope that the same would happen to the BCCI/Srinivasan if the IPL starts losing fans.
True, but IPL has become so big, just look at the number of foreign players clamoring to play in it as it gives them an identify and avenue to break into their respective national teams and fans will not stop watching it as long as they feel that their money & time is well spent in those 3 hours. Just like Apple, even when they launch average products, people queue up!
In 2012, I was in India during IPL and went to 2 games in Bangalore & Chennai and the atmosphere & experience in the stadium is electric & fun and for folks for India it has become an “in-thing” to be an IPL game, else, you are not cool!!
So, it is tough to see fans not going unless there is so much excess international cricket played in India that the fans get bored.
I think the bigger reform that is needed for Cricket is giving a context to every series be it Test, ODI or T20 and having a meaningful conclusion to each calendar year of cricket matches.
I have been ambivalent about the IPL for quite some time. The point that you make has also been made several times very cogently by CricketingView as well. I respect this viewpoint.
Bringing this discussion to a slightly different line though – do we ever think why no current players, no stars take a stand to oppose the IPL because it suffers from alleged corruption ? Why do the likes of Tendulkar, Ganguly or Dravid for example not say that the system needs a major change ? Do they believe that the system is largely clean and issues of corruption are isolated incidences ? If it is worth their time, shouldn’t that be good enough for the fan ?
I’m actually disappointed in them. So many opportunities over the years to take a stand on behalf of players, but they’ve taken the “don’t rock the boat” approach.
Think about this– if they don’t make anyone at the BCCI angry, they are assured a long and prosperous career in the media, coaching, administration or whatever they want.
If they take on the BCCI, they will have to find a career outside cricket.
Yup. Now think about the cricket fan in India. If he doesn’t watch the IPL, he will have to watch some god damn soap or a maddening tv news show or something when he comes home in the evening. If nothing else, IPL provides a distraction, a source of entertainment etc etc for a month and a half and all that. And it comes in a package which makes it convenient for all of the family to get together whether in a stadium or at home. Whether it is cricket or not is debatable but sure it is entertainment and it is there for consumption.
I guess what I am saying here is – I believe what you are saying is right, but very few will actually come along to follow what you are saying because of these reasons.
Yep, it might be a losing battle. The IPL is a great product.
A very valid point, of course. But I guess it’d be next to impossible given it’s the Indian cricket watchers you’ve mentioned. Had it been Australian or English, one could have hoped more and I’m saying this merely on that fact that they turn up to watch Test matches too. Add the Bollywood and stuff, IPL is literally unstoppable.
Having said that, the international cricket is in a similar state, too. Courtesy of some of the same names and its revival rests on pretty much the same solution. I know, IPL is the talking point here, still.
I agree–the corruption hardly starts or ends with the IPL. But acting specifically in the context of the IPL is beneficial. That is, if IPL revenues fall right after the Mudgal report, it’s likely that corporate India and the BCCI will see a causal relationship. And enact some reform.
Mmm-hmm. I’d guess point Abhishek mentioned above is pops up. One would need these iconic players to actually spread-the-word. With the mostly biased nature of the news editors, I don’t think the Indian “fans” do get to know the real ugly face of the BCCI.
It has long been my feeling that only three entities have the power to reform cricket in India: either Tendulkar-Ganguly-Dravid take a stand (and their influence will reduce soon), corporate India (Ambani, Star stop suffering fools), or the fear of govt regulation. All three are possibilities, but the star-players are becoming less powerful by the day.
While I accept the argument behind this, how far would one need to go ? Keep away from cricket viewing, irrespective of the format since the same players are involved in international games too ? In fact shouldn’t this be the case with international cricket itself ? After Cronje in 2000, spot fixing at Lords in 2009, shouldn’t we all stop watching cricket ?? Is there a line to be drawn and if so why/why not ?
Admittedly, small drops make an ocean, and this could be the initial drops..
Yeah, I agree that it’s a pragmatic “produce less pollution” type argument instead of a morally-consistent “stop all pollution” type argument.
But I think right now, the IPL is a strong target because if the owners/TV-channels/administrators see a drop in revenue/ratings right after the Mudgal report, it will freak them out.
Reblogged this on Ramblings of an armchair critic.
If spot fixing happens in the IPL, it probably happens in International Cricket as well. So is the solution to just stop watching the sport altogether?
Right now we have *proof* of a broken league. Broken all the way to the top. If we keep watching after seeing the proof, then we are responsible for it.
Also, with the freshness of the Mudgal report, if revenues drop in the IPL, we can force reform by freaking them out.
International cricket may be broken too—some parts more than others—but I haven’t been convinced that fan civil disobedience would be as effective.
Cricket – and specifically the IPL – is a sport with mass attraction. Your own audience and the hundreds of thousands of fans who understand its history and appreciate its technique are a small minority. Even if we mobilised I think we would be swamped by those satisfied with the IPL as entertainment.
You might not have found the secret to saving cricket, but you have managed to revive the cricket blog comment. Congratulations on that. There’s plenty of fine writing on the Internet, but you have the knack of forcing readers to take their thoughts about the game to new places. Thank you for that.
As you won’t be watching the IPL, can we expect more blog pieces this spring. I hope so.
You’re right—I’m calling for mass action with a paltry audience. Mostly it’s an exercise in getting at least my audience to think. And perhaps a couple of my influential readers to amplify the message.
I do plan on writing more regularly, but I’ve become more circumspect. Conservation of attention, outrage. One thing I do plan on doing—which you and Matt Becker did recently—is to write about something good. Positive blogging. Been mired in negativity lately.