Newspaper headlines, TV debates and the scores of opinions on social media would have us believe that a country of a billion people was betrayed in one shot, yesterday!
When the IPL Spot Fixing scam broke out, and 3 cricketers including one who had played for India earlier, were arrested, it has given the impression that God has fallen from His High pedestal. That it is a day of national grief, and cricket and India will never be the same again.
Calls of banning the cricketers for life, to having them arrested, to scrapping the current series of IPL, to holding BCCI and it’s officials accountable, to including the franchise owners to take blame, and many many more such demands have been doing the rounds.
Going against the tide, the way I see this episode is that, way too much is being made out of this incident. And I have many reasons to support this point of view of mine:
1. This is not an Olympic Sport. People are not playing for their country. This is a sporting event whose main aim is to ENTERTAIN. Especially when the 3-hour version of the sport has emerged, it has gone squarely into the sweet spot of entertainment, and actually competes with films and music shows and the like. To entertain people (in fact, film releases are delayed due to this competitive factor!).
So if this game is meant to entertain people and as long as it is doing so, why complain??
2. I have given this analogy before. I give it again.
When you go to see a film, and the story evolves, you sit there with bated breath, wondering “what will happen next”. The fact of course, is that the story has already been written, enacted and recorded. “Someone” already has decided what will happen next. Only YOU are discovering it for the first time. And you have enough intrigue and feel enough excitement, as it unfolds for you.
You don’t say that Aditya Chopra must be banned or Balaji Telefilms must be banned because they are showing us a story which they have pre-planned, and make us feel as if it is happening in real time!
If we are fine with films or television in terms of such entertainment, why not accept the same in T20 cricket too?
3. For many of us, there was an iconic moment in life, that evening of 1983, when Kapil Dev lifted the World Cup of cricket, at Lord’s.
We enjoyed the excitement, we enjoyed the victory.
What if a scam broke out today that revealed that bookies had paid Viv Richards to throw away his wicket and that led to India emerging victorious?!
For all of us who enjoyed the drama in real time, would it take away that pleasure which we felt in 1983??
4. So if we appreciate the brilliance of acting when Aamir Khan plays Rangeela or Amitabh plays Inspector Vijay, and we think of them as the character and find them believable, we can also admire a Sreesanth, who makes it appears that he’s actually bowling bad, and giving away runs.
I mean, if he also shows emotions of frustration when he gets hit, and appears believable, isn’t he doing as much of a good job as Aamir Khan or Amitabh, to entertain us?? What’s wrong with that??
5. Yes, it would become a sham if every catch was dropped and only lollipop balls were bowled, and the entire game became a festival match. THEN of course, the crowds will go away. But as long as some doses of drama are being injected, and appearance is maintained of a hard-fought game played with a key competitive spirit, what’s wrong with it??
6. For a moment, let’s take the conspiracy theory a step forward.
That more or less, the entire league has a concept of fixing. And the fixing is being done for purpose of maintaining a sense of excitement in the games and the league. Which then brings viewers coming back, and which also keeps the TRPs up, and the advertisers and the broadcasters happy.
Supposing this was done right through the league, and which is why, we had so many close finishes, and also that, till the very end, there is a certain openness about who will get into the last 4. And which in turns, ensures few dud games, and the TRPs are maintained.
This is easily conceivable.
So what, I say??
As long as we didn’t know about this, we were enjoying it completely. Everyone was happy – the cricketers, the spectators, the TV viewers, the advertisers, the broadcasters, the BCCI..
And now, say, we know that it was “fixed” to an extent.
So what has changed?
We are betrayed. We walk away from the game. Advertisers go away. The entire league comes under a challenge. And that helps whom??
From win-win to lose-lose??
Rest assured, I am not at all sarcastic here. I truly believe every word I have written here.
For all I know, and all I care, most professional sport may have small or high degree of fixing. But the role of those sports have always been to attract viewers and entertain them. And they are doing a good job of it.
Supposing there was no fixing, in the IPL. Everything was played fair and square. What if we got:
- Pune vs Punjab emerging as finalists, on merit. Where are the stars? How does this ensure viewership?
(just an example – nothing personal against Pune or Punjab!)
- teams scoring 120-130 in the first innings, and the team batting second folds up for 80 in 15 overs. How interesting would that be?
- within the first half of the league, the better teams have won enough to seal their place in the last four, and the others have got to a point where the knock out stage is beyond their reach? What excitement will be left in the balance games??
I believe that there have been elements of fixing in the game, for many years, and especially from the time that one of our erstwhile current experts, used to be a player! (the one who claims to have been “so shocked” by the happenings yesterday).
We did not know about most of those. It has all been a well-kept secret. Everybody is happy and spectators have been entertained.
Why break that comfort zone? Enjoy the sport, be entertained.
We’d rather watch this than watch some more saas-bahu stuff, and we’d rather ensure that IPL keeps the next Himmatwala type films from hitting the theatres!!
What do you say??