The IPL typically represents media frenzy, glamour and excessive of vices that supersede the sporting domain of the event; the event is taking cricket lovers for a ride as the glitterati topple the sporting paradigm of the game of cricket. IPL is packaged in a way that even those population segments that might not be hardcore cricket fans are glued to their television sets allured by the clamour of celebrities, glamour and the hysteria that goes with it. The money-spinning potboiler that the IPL is, it undoubtedly speaks of a very efficient and hot business model with all the right proportions of the marketing mix embedded in it. But with the largesse comes the cost. And the cost is the game of cricket itself. The unearthing of betting scandals, players’ complicity in spot-fixing, underworld kingpins’ involvement and monetary misappropriation are all turning the premise of what was supposed to be a perfectly innocent game – the game of the gentlemen.

The IPL model follows (or at least was supposed to follow) the EPL, NBA and NFL models. They are all professional sporting events with billions of dollars involved within them. However, the critical point to note here is that they are not primarily business models converted to sporting events. But precisely the opposite! The EPL and NBA are inter-club tournaments where the clubs represent sporting tradition and loads of sporting pedigree. Their sporting heritage speaks volumes of their commitment towards the sports they represent and the same is evidenced within the domain of their respective games and tournaments. The IPL, on the other hand, has become something more than a cricket tournament, but something less than a major world league. It is a new career option for the many hopefuls but no more bears the inherent spirit associated with cricket.

From the very onset, the event has been mired in a spate of scams and controversies. It’s a far cry from the supposed role-models EPL and NBA. On the one hand, where sporting leagues internationally are trying to adopt more of a socio-capitalist model and are increasing their accountability towards the sporting world and society at large by promoting sports and holistic development across the world, the IPL has unfortunately gone the crony way! Obviously, the lack of a free-market structure has given IPL and its stakeholders all the possible avenues to distort the essence of a business model and still stay in the market. What else can better describe this than the ownership pattern of the league? There has always been a link between IPL and BCCI with respect to ownership and management. In the beginning, Lalit Modi served as the Chairman and Commissioner of the Indian Premier League and also was the Vice President of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)! Similarly now, Mr. N. Srinivasan, who is the President of BCCI, concurrently is the owner of Chennai Super Kings! Such ownership not only questions the verity and transparency of the system but also allows the promoters to misuse official power and positions. It’s like the Chairman of the Football Association (FA) owning a club in EPL; or David Stern, the Commissioner of NBA, also having management control in USA Basketball, the official basketball association. And with recent reports confirming that BCCI Chief N Srinivasan’s son-in-law Gurunath Meiyappan is being questioned by the police for his alleged spot-fixing role and his deep connection with the now arrested Vindoo Dara Singh, another alleged spot-fixer, this complicity of BCCI in IPL mismanagement has come completely out in the open.  Read More....
The year when India is going to host both the Commonwealth Games as well as the World Cup Hockey championships couldn’t have started in a more unfortunate way. The first is of course the fracas revolving around the strike of the Indian hockey players and their refusal to play till the time their arrears were paid. While the governing body known as Hockey India was quick to literally term the players unpatriotic and accuse them of putting money before the essence of playing for India, what was appalling was not only the fact that the arrears (running into lakhs) of the said hockey players had not been paid for a long duration, but also that Hockey India actually offered a pittance of Rs 25,000 for each player in lieu of the arrears. And this too was offered to them only with the condition that either the striking players accepted it or left the conditioning camp within 48 hours. Needless to say, the authorities were perhaps thinking that it would be easy for them to lure junior players to replace the existing team. But then as it turned out, the juniors refused to budge and sided with their seniors. The striking hockey players have been consistently telling that this agitation is not for any self-serving mission, but to fix the rot in the system. And finally, when it caught the fancy of the common man and the media, and there were cries to set things right, money did start pouring in and things were settled down for the time being after the intervention of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Chairman, Suresh Kalmadi. But this clearly is more like a band-aid strip. The rot still remains!

The second incident is with respect to the way the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) behaved with Abhinav Bindra. NRAI suddenly remembered that discipline is a virtue and disqualified Abhinav Bindra from participating in next month’s Commonwealth Shooting Championship. Well, Abhinav needs no introduction. But for those who manage NRAI, perhaps being India’s lone gold medalist in the Beijing Olympics was not a sufficient condition to give Abhinav a readymade berth. This time too things got sorted out later after the intervention of the IOA. As in the case above, the rot still remains.

It goes without saying that Indian hockey players are paid chicken feed when compared to their cricketing counterparts. And the most shameless thing is that even when this team wins the Asia Cup (2007), Azlan Shah Cup (2009) or bags the bronze medal at a Champions Challenge tournament in 2009, they are still not paid their promised piecemeal few lakhs in time. Well, patriotism is not something that can happen on empty stomachs. The crux of all the problems lies in the way each of the sports associations have become a personal fiefdom of politicians and also a place to settle their remaining political scores. For example, for a long time, Indian hockey was the personal fiefdom of former Punjab police DGP KPS Gill. It was in 2008 that the Indian Hockey Federation was dismantled following a series of bribery scandals and it was replaced by Hockey India, which has proved to be equally inept. The same is the case of IOA, which has almost become a personal fiefdom of Suresh Kalmadi, even when India’s performance in international sports has only been sliding and has almost reached the nadir. Had it been a private entity, no such non-performing CEO would have been kept at the helm for such a long time without any substantial result to show. Just like a soldier cannot fight without the right kind of support system in terms of logistics, food, ammunitions, weapons, clothing and information about enemy positions, no team of any sporting order can perform effectively unless the governing bodies are accountable for what they deliver to the players, as well as to that game. Cricket is an interesting case in point. BCCI is one of the richest sports bodies of the world, yet has created a clear demarcation between election bodies and the efficient administration of the game. It has been extremely successful in marketing the game – and thereby bringing in billions of revenues - and also in nurturing and nourishing new talents. And the results have been there to see. Not only has BCCI nurtured and worked towards improving the Indian cricket team’s performance in this century, but BCCI also has been successful in launching the IPL and making it a resounding success and an interesting example of what a sporting body can do to a game. IPL has opened up a vista of opportunity for hundreds of players, who would probably not even make it to the final eleven of their national teams, yet have enough talent to enthrall the audience. The same is the case with what FIFA has done to football.     Read More....

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