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VOL.27 :: NO.24 :: Jun. 12 - 18, 2004

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DEBATE / READERS' RESPONSE

Is cricket killing other sports in India?


YES, cricket is indeed killing other sports in India. People of India treat cricket as their fifth Veda or fourth Religion after Hinduism, Islam & Christianity. Cricket is not our national game, but it is celebrated as a festival, thanks to our Board, Government, sponsors and the media.

Cricket has also been used as a bridge between two nations, as seen in the recent India-Pakistan series. The stunning live coverage of cricket is also a reason for the demise of other sports.

When Gopi Chand won the all-England badminton championship in Britain no one cheered or cared because in the same week Harbajan Singh took a hat-trick and V. V. S. Laxman scored 281 in the Kolkata Test against Australia.

No one remembers the Olympic bronze medals won by tennis star Leander Paes (Atlanta, 1996) and weightlifter Karnam Malleswari (Sydney, 2000), but Anil Kumble's 10-wicket haul, Harbhajan's hat-trick, and Virender Sehwag's 309 will be evergreen in memory.

People don't know how to play other sports or what the rules of other games are. But they are well conversant with cricket. Irfan Pathan has only five months of experience in international cricket, but he is famous because of advertisement assignments. In fact, hockey is our national game and India has won many gold medals in the Olympics, but all we remember is Kapil Dev's team winning the cricket World Cup in 1983.

As I mentioned earlier, the media, Board, Government and sponsors are the culprits for cricket ruling the roost, to the detriment of other sports in India.

V. Balamurugan,
Chennai

I am 24 years old and I am not a fan of cricket. In fact, I dislike this game these days. Earlier, when I was young I used to have much interest in it. But now I have understood the reality about this game.

This game is clearly killing other sports in India. The widespread popularity of this game among the people, the tremendous media attention given to it both by the print and TV media has halted the progress of all other sports in our country.


Players of international fame and calibre in other sports are not given the proper media support and attention as well as proper facilities for further development. Quite a lot of them are disgusted with this sort of treatment and some of them have also threatened to give up Indian citizenship to fulfil their ambitions.

It is a shame that our country which has one-sixth of the total world population has to try hard to get even a single bronze medal in the Olympics. If this cricket mania continues India can never do well in the Olympics for years to come.

I have some good points against cricket which I put forward briefly:

1. This game (cricket) is played in only about 8-10 nations in the world. So even if India manages to reach the top in this game one day it will not get true international recognition and appreciation. I consider it to be far better to be in the top 30 in sports such as soccer than be at the top in cricket. 2. The popularity of this game is by all means restricted to the Indian subcontinent only. It has clearly lost ground in the West Indies and England. They don't play cricket now with such vigour and attitude as they used to do before. I don't know why we are going after it when even England, where cricket was born, doesn't give it too much attention.

3. This is a long (7 to 8 hours) game. Test matches go on for five days. So it's a time-consuming game or in other words it's a time wasting game for the people who take interest in it. It wastes whole days for millions of people in India who watch it. This is also one reason why European and American nations abstain from this game.

4. The immense media attention for this game has reduced India's status and rank in a game like hockey where India has such an excellent tradition and record. I believe India has a better record in hockey than what Brazil has in soccer.

5. If cricket has to continue as it is then India should really learn from Australia, which, though it has a good cricket team, promotes and encourages other sports as well. Australia comes within the top five in the Olympics medals tally.

So the time has already come to seriously consider these things.

Bhaskar Chakraborty,
Kolkata

TO say that cricket kills other sports is like saying that Microsoft kills other IT companies! It is certainly not true. The truth is that the game of cricket has more following and is a big entertainer when compared to other sports.

To add, cricket is a very unique game wherein you have two versions, Tests and one-dayers. The one-dayers provide the thrills and so sponsors are able to market it successfully and increase the interest among their viewers. So more sponsors means more money into the game, which goes for its development. The thrill of the game and money attracts many youngsters and so many turn up for cricket coaching academies. And this in no way belittles the other games such as tennis and chess. In America, baseball reigns supreme and would one say that baseball kills football, which is a less popular sport in that country?

At the end, it all boils down to a successful marketing of the game. In India cricket happens to be that successfully marketed sport! If other sports generate more interest and India has more successes in other sports certainly sponsors will queue up to support them.

P. Krishna,
Chennai

IS cricket killing other sports in India?

No, it's you the media and your associated advertisers, sponsors and PR companies.

And you've just proved it by devoting 45 pages to it.


Advertisers seemingly queue up for cricket stars as every ad-break on TV has Tendulkar grinning out in almost every spot.

Never mind that most of the products they endorse have little or no connection with cricket.

And what is Samsung Team India, I thought Sahara were the official sponsors.

Talking of endorsements, isn't it said that Tendulkar gave up the captaincy of a losing team for fear of losing his ad income?

Acres of newsprint was devoted to the returning team after the Australia series, but what did they win?

Nothing.

Even more after the Pakistan series. And what did the players give their adoring fans on return?

Nothing.

They left via the back door of the airport.

Then the Government gets in on the act. Match bonuses become tax-free, Tendulkar has the $100,000 tax on his Ferrari waived.

How far would that have gone towards helping Anju George to an Olympic medal, or saving the lives of 4000 farmers in Andhra Pradesh?

No it's not the people of India who deify cricketers at the expense of all others.

Look in the mirror, it's you.

Glenn Douglas,
Dona Paula

ONE has no go but to agree that cricket has the lion's share among sports in India. But you simply can't blame it for killing other sports. Which is the most popular game in the streets in Spain? It is soccer. In the US, it is baseball. And in India, it is obviously cricket. We grow up with cricket and it is the most affordable and enjoyable game on the streets, unlike hockey, tennis or swimming. It is simply because of this fact that cricket has been so dominant.

And with mega stars such as Dravid, Sachin, Ganguly who can't be denied as players of international standard playing for India, they naturally appeal to us more. Individual-oriented games like tennis, chess can never attain more sponsorship than popular team games, not just in India. It is the cricket team's skill which has made it so popular. Though not officially, cricket is India's national game.

M. Sriganesh,
Vellore

IS cricket killing other sports in India? It would be unfair to cite cricket as the only reason for the poor state of other sports in India. But, cricket, along with some more factors, is responsible for the present condition of other sports.

To be honest, the BCCI has done an excellent job in popularising the sport as well as treating the players who perform. Compare this with the IHF's shocking attitude towards Dhanraj Pillay or our Government's treatment of our only Olympic medal hope Anju Bobby George.

Don't get the impression that I support only cricket, because I play hockey for my college team. Even at the college level, hockey isn't thriving. The possible causes are poor facilities and no regular coaches.

When hockey, football and athletics are in such a sorry state, the less said the better about other sports. If people say cricket has stopped the spread of other sports, then it has to be noted that we have several players of international class only in cricket. Naturally, cricket is popular.

For such a big nation, it is sad to note that there's only one Dhanraj or Anju George or Gopi Chand. Lack of sponsors is another reason for the current trend of other sports not being able to get deserving attention.

A four-year-old kid knows Sehwag better than world chess champion V. Anand. So, it is up to the respective Boards/Federations to take a leaf out of the BCCI's book and strengthen their respective sports. For the moment, let's wish Anju George and Dhanraj good luck at Athens.

T. P. Siva Shankar,
Chennai

I think it would be unfortunate if we say that cricket is killing other sports in India. How can we say that? Before 1980, hockey was the most popular sport in India. Football was also more popular than cricket at that time. But now it has fallen behind cricket. Who is responsible for this? In my opinion, the federations of respective sports are responsible.

The officials of other sports are unable to promote the game properly. On the other hand, the BCCI has done an excellent job. Even after the match-fixing-scandal, cricket has not lost its popularity. The BCCI should be given full credit for this. They have spread the game superbly even into the remote villages of India. That is why a child in a remote village knows the name of Sachin, but not Leander Peas.

The Corporate sector will come in only if the sports federations deal with them professionally. In the past the corporate people have had a horrible experience. This does not happen while dealing with the BCCI. Though other sports get media coverage, it is not at the level that cricket gets. I think credit should be given to the BCCI as they have worked hard in that direction. So, instead of blaming cricket, federations of other sports should promote their games professionally.

Rajarshi Ghosh,
Kolkata

THE straighforward answer to the question whether cricket is killing other sports in India is NO. Cricket is popular because there is a "cricket culture" in India and by that I mean mass participation.

Because the game is embedded in the consciousness of the Indians it becomes easy to market such a product. Mind you, the sponsors do not pump money into the game out of altruism but because cricket is saleable and ensures maximum possible ROI. To even remotely suggest that the ills of other sports are due to cricket and that pumping in money — without a culture for those games — would remove those ills is a monumental absurdity. It is like putting the proverbial cart before the horse. Money is important — yes, to the extent that it helps in building infrastructure. But its importance ends there because it cannot buy audience.

To understand my point, just look at West Indies cricket. When the cricket culture was present in the Caribbean islands, cricket was the most popular game despite lack of proper facilities and financial strength. Today, despite money flowing into WI cricket — as compared to yesteryear — cricket has taken a beating in terms of popularity. Why? Simply because the culture for cricket is absent.

Ramani Easwaran,
Bangalore

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