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Looking beyond cricket

Looking beyond cricket
Highlights

A silent revolution that is underway in the country augurs well for Indian sport, if the momentum is sustained. Taking a cue from Indian Premier League (IPL), off-shoots emerged in

A silent revolution that is underway in the country augurs well for Indian sport, if the momentum is sustained. Taking a cue from Indian Premier League (IPL), off-shoots emerged in a multitude of disciplines like badminton, basketball, volleyball, tennis and kabaddi, each of which innovated to gain public acceptance in the long run.

In cricket-mad India, this may seem like a big gamble, considering that although every sport has its own loyal fan base, cricket stands head and shoulders above all. And that is the bottom line, take it or leave it. Against this backdrop, what comes as a welcome revelation is the patronisation an indigenously conceptualised rugged sport has been commanding in urban India since the time the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) was launched last year.

In an era when broadcast media can make or break one’s fortunes, it is indeed a huge relief that kabaddi is getting a share of the pie by way of prime time live telecast. The ongoing PKL and the excitement it is bringing along comes as a major relief to the distraught cricket fans who find themselves entrapped in a double whammy.

If the obnoxious corruption scandal that has maligned the image of the IPL and the country has brought shame of the unholy kind, then the Men in Blue’s preposterous surrender to lowly ranked Bangladesh and Zimbabwe has completed the humiliation. The gentleman’s game has been marred by corrupt individuals to the extent that the BCCI and the ego-ridden FIFA are in the same diabolic league.

If sport is what matters to the authorities, it will be good if the government breathes life into disciplines like kabaddi and volleyball by pumping in money for that element of vibrancy because they enjoy a massive patronisation in the interiors and have their loyal band of obsessed fans.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) may be the Big Brother for all practical purposes but the authorities should stop getting swayed or mesmerised by its overbearing aura that has ensured that it stays beyond the purview of the RTI. Kabaddi is one sport where India still dominates, which is evidenced by the golden haul in the Asian Games since the sport was incorporated as a medal sport.

There is a strong global lobby that is striving to have the sport included in Olympics, which, when it transpires, will mean a sure shot medal for India, a la hockey from a bygone era. Those pitching for cricket should know that it is played in a mere ten countries at the Test level whereas kabaddi is a popular competitive sport in an estimated 35-40 countries spread over continents.

There is an Indian stamp to kabaddi and it will be in the fitness of things if sponsors start looking beyond cricket and focus on grassroots sports. The viewership and TRP ratings for PKL have shown a steady upward trend and that must be music to ears of the broadcasters and sponsors.

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