The IPL Spot Fixing Fiasco and Why it should not be such a big deal?!

Posted: May 17, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.

16-sreesanth

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??

 

 

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Comments
  1. anandkumarrs says:

    Hi, Well written. I tend to agree here. IPL is a mass pvt. tournament engaged in entertainment 1st and cricket second. Spotfixing and all that is part of the package. We should just sit back & enjoy. While on this, do read my post on IPL – April and the IPL typhoid written before the fixingate. http://wp.me/p1dZc2-ew
    Feedback welcome !

  2. PD says:

    Sanjay
    Your point is well taken.
    The first feeling I had was to be envious and jealous . A person can get paid Rs.60 lac in cash for not doing his job for few minutes while he is already being paid in millions also for the job.
    leaving aside the personal feelings, I then got somewhat angry with a gut feeling of something very rotten deep under our society. Even if IPL is only for entertainment the people in front of us are sport person first. We look forward to seeing them with some degree of moral and professional ethics.
    If IPL was played by our politicians or for that matter even Balaji’s television cast this would not have impacted me or our society.
    With corruption everywhere this one gets added to the list. What values does the younger generation imbibe and from where ?
    Entertainment is good and well accepted but it can be clean also.
    Let the betting be official and the money paid to players for spot fixing be legit. Let them declare and pay all the TDS, Income Tax, Surcharges on the income so earned. That is the least they need to do.
    PD

    • Sanjay Mehta says:

      Pratik,
      Supposing it was NOT about the money.
      Supposing there was no bookies, and no money being paid to the bowlers.

      But the league as a whole, wanted to make the games exciting.
      So without making it look like a mockery, they “engineer” close results.
      They ensure excitement till the very end.

      If the money element was out of the way, would you believe that it was fine to do this..?

      – Sanjay

  3. Sanjay,

    The point is not about our awareness of the fixing. The point is not whether are we missing on the entertainment. The point is not of whether it involves money or not.

    Whatever may be the gravity of the issue, it will be spoken of widely for just a couple of days, hype created around it, brick bats thrown at various people, but ultimately time will subside it, not late but soon. That is what is even happening for scams worth crores. From that point of view, it is somehting which will be a hot topic of conversation for those immense many, some of whom even feel entertained more by this than the matches.

    What you say is also correct, that why should it reduce our entertainment, just because a Sreesanth has faltered, just because an Ankeet has taken away the charm out of the win of MI.

    But a fact remains that it actually happens. The win of a team happening out of the genuine efforts of the players will be much more satisfying compared to the one arising out of the fraudulent give away by a few in the opposite team. Refering to your 1983 world cup example, yes, it would actually take away some joy out of what all of us had at that time.

    We also need to see it from the corrupt mind set angle that it implies. It is only the public outcry which will become a deterrent in the future, and not the penalties that are likely to be imposed. Sadly, we do not see any fear amongst the offenders, least from our judiciary system. In such cases, the only thing that they would be fearing about is the hatred which they would create against themselves. If as viewers we were to ignore it to move on, then it would result in giving signals to them that “just dont worry, nobody cares a damn” .

    The point is all about feeling good at the end of it, and one surely doesnt after seeing all this.

    Priyesh

    • Sanjay Mehta says:

      Priyesh,
      Interesting thoughts, most certainly.

      What I repeat about the 1983 win, is that what we enjoyed then, nobody can take it away from us. What we would NOW feel about it, is a new emotion.

      Likewise, the many great cricket (and other) games that we have seen and enjoyed, due to their competitiveness, we enjoyed those. And nobody will take it away from us.

      If this whole business was not told to us, and happened, and we enjoyed the games, how different would the experiences have been for us?

      Maybe it was always happening. Just the knowledge of it has apparently ruined it for us.

      I don’t somehow see it that way.

      As it is, I forget a game in a day or two.. it is the enjoyment for the moment.

      Anyway, it is just a point of view. Thanks for your perspective..

  4. SEKHAR GC says:

    Good One Sanjay. Well written and a good Point of view.
    I for one, though, go into a movie fully expecting what to see- knowing its all planned.
    I for one WILL NOT watch a cricket match knowing its planned.
    I might as well see a movie 🙂

    • Sanjay Mehta says:

      Hi Sekhar,
      To your point that “you will not go for a match knowing it is planned..”, what if I were to tell you that you HAVE been going!
      Just that you did NOT know that it was planned!
      What if the many matches that you went and enjoyed were ones that someone had already planned for?!

      If most games are NOT fixed, and a few ARE, and you don’t know which are which, will you not see ANY cricket at all?
      🙂

  5. Anand says:

    Yes. Agree with you. From the day the original match fixing story came out , I began looking at cricket matches like wwf. You watch the matches for pure entertainment. The more the sixes , the close run outs the exciting catches – the better. If I have something better to do I don’t watch cricket .

    • Sanjay Mehta says:

      I agree, Anand.
      Even I watch cricket as a last resort of sorts – when there’s nothing else to do!

      • Raju M. Thakkar says:

        Well Sanjay, I fully agree with you from one point of view. However, when one watches the game as a game and not as pure entertainment, the way one watches today’s idiotic movies, then it definitely makes a person think about the spirit of the game. Well, if one watches it as pure entertainment, then it does not make any difference, as to who has paid whom, how much is being paid, who wins, who loses, etc. It is like going and physically releasing the heat with anybody, if one really wants to only satiate the physical desires. . . but dear, is there a difference between eating the food “cooked” by one’s spouse and eating food called for from the commercial restaurants ? If it is only satiating your hunger, then it does not matter. In a nutshell, it is the perception that really matters and if one is watching it like a game, certainly one would feel a bit, since one would like to see the real spirit of the game and not an entertainment. The opinion is totally mine, without prejudice to whatever you have said.

      • Sanjay Mehta says:

        Hi Raju,
        Appreciate your point of view.

        All I was saying is that if you did not know and kept enjoying the game, the little tweaks in the game which we barely recognise, should not matter!

      • Raju M. Thakkar says:

        Hence the age-old adage . . IGNORANCE IS BLISS.

  6. Megha says:

    Betting is illegal money therefore hard to trace. This money is going to fund terror! IPL uses state resources. You know how much water is used to give this private corrupt tournament good green fields? This when there is a drought in Maharashtra, where farmers are committing suicide and women moving to prostitution. Sometimes we should stop thinking like city inhabitants and more like Indian citizens.

    • Sanjay Mehta says:

      I am not aware of what permissions have been taken for use of the water, etc.
      There are a lot of events that happen and where resources get used.
      As long as necessary permissions are taken, and approvals are given, I don’t see a problem.

      I understand challenges with some parts of society on one reason or the other. If that means other activities and events should stop, that may not be the right answer.

      If the IPL has not taken adequate permissions, then of course it is at fault.

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