When the IPL started in 2008, its huge popularity made one feel that it would serve the cause of cricket. Now, one is doubtful. IPL venues look more like carnivals instead of grounds where cricket is played. Cricket shares the limelight with team owners who grace the VIP stands and dugouts with their family and friends. The owners are usually bigwigs in the movie and corporate world. Cheerleaders prancing and ear-blasting music are the hallmarks of an IPL match. Pictures of post-match parties which players are compulsorily supposed to attend are splashed on Page 3 of tabloids and newspapers every day.
These activities have hardly anything to do with cricket. They are more like marketing gimmicks to attract people who have no actual interest in the game. A true blue cricketer will surely be interested only in cricket and would indulge in activities like parties only in his leisure time. The staunch cricket fan also comes to the stadium to just enjoy the game of cricket. He is not interested in watching Shahrukh Khan, Shilpa Shetty or even Vijay Mallya. Even a fan watching the game on TV would prefer to watch it on silent mode minus all the noise and would barely tolerate the innumerable advertisements which keep popping up.
The recent scams reported in the media have not helped matters any. A cricket lover watching the match would keep wondering if the game being played is clean and if any murky deals are going on behind the scenes? The off-field googlies of IPL-3 are reminiscent of the time when the betting scam involving Hansie Cronje, Herschelle Gibbs and others, had surfaced. Names of some of our own cricketers had also cropped up. That was a very difficult time for cricket and the sport lost many of its fans. One hopes that IPL does not bring about a similar catastrophe.
The TRPs indicate that television viewership has moved from TV serials to IPL-3. Looks like the TV audience prefers the reality show called IPL. It is common knowledge that reality shows on television are not actually ‘real’. Whether IPL is also an ‘unreal’ reality show is anybody’s guess.
Author: Pratibha Shenoy (Bangalore)