Monday, February 11, 2008

India faces test of solidarity

We all know how much we care about what happens at the Indo-Pak border, where our jawans brave torrid conditions of sub-zero temperatures and ridiculously low oxygen to save us from invasion each day, so that we may sleep well in then nights.

And we know very well how much we care about any incident, law ordevelopment of national significance- indeed our circle of concern doesn't extend beyond the immediate boundaries.
But, involuntarily we have been nationally united- in watching TV, especially cricket.

There are millions of fans out there who would see cricket for days together whether India plays against Australia or Bangladesh , or even New South Wales for a warm-up match. If their favorite stars are playing, they would watch the most insignificant match there could be. (When Sachin played for an English University to get match practise after his elbow surgery, there were people who wanted to know the scores of even that match)
This country is cricket crazy- its official and the whole world knows that. There wouldn't many eyebrows raised if Cricket was made the national game- it would be accepted with glee.

The BCCI is raking in cash like a minting machine all because of these frenetic fans. There's absolutely no question whether the IPL would be another watched event- it sure will be. With matches lasting just double the time of your average football game, its the perfect competition for EPL in India.

However, I believe with the influx of the might of FIFA to help popularise EPL in India, and the fact that so many of the present upper middle class hooked on the derogatory madness that is the EPL, the IPL would be muscled out.

Let's face it- IPL is bound to be boring at some point of time. Besides, the Indian fan is a curious entity- he watches any trivial if the Indian stars are part of it. Anybody else if rubbish. And that too- not any Indian would do. Only well identified figues could rein in the fans and keep them glued.
Already there have been a lot of converts- from cricket to football, who would never come back. They think they are a much higher mortals watching a world renowned game, not accepting the fact that it is just another madness.
Earlier the US was targeted by FIFA, but it found impregnable fortresses in NBA, NFL and NHL. The problem (for FIFA) with America is that their culture is rooted with watching the local games. They watch anything "National", but nothing beyond that.
Although the average Indian cricket fan seems to present a similar picture, I wouldn't bet my money on BCCI getting more from the golden goose.
Already the present cricket season (for India, and other countries) that there is an overdose of cricket. The introduction of IPL would further cram the calendar and make the game more complicated (people would find trouble remembering who is in which team and a lot of such things discussed in EPL).
Above all that- with so many T20 matches, the whole meaning of runs would be lost. I know that 80% of Indian fans are Sachin's ardent followers. About 50% of them follow his each and every run, counting them like spanish doubloons they earned. When he retires, along with the many cherished stars, and when his run machine comes to a stop at long last, people wouldn't care much about cricket.
Even I cant think of a time cricket would be enjoyable without him. The average Indian fan would easily convert to football- and that would open vistas for many other sports as well.

The Indians face the ultimate test of solidarity- the US faced it a decade back, and successfully resisted, will the Indians be able to resist the Global attack and keep their viewing localised?

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