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New game changer

New game changer
Highlights

By all accounts, it is bonanza time for hundreds of kabaddi players and millions of enthusiasts of the rugged sport. The launch of the third edition of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) has once again put India’s organisational acumen on the global sports map. Saturday’s inaugural is expected to bring in a new robustness to television sports viewership in the country. 

By all accounts, it is bonanza time for hundreds of kabaddi players and millions of enthusiasts of the rugged sport. The launch of the third edition of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) has once again put India’s organisational acumen on the global sports map. Saturday’s inaugural is expected to bring in a new robustness to television sports viewership in the country.

It will be all of exhilarating ‘Le Panga’ evenings, which will also usher in good tidings for those into kabaddi, which India has gifted to mankind. The first two seasons produced high-voltage matches that rang in a dose of excitement that left many newly introduced fans awestruck at the delirious crowd-support kabaddi enjoys.

One should appreciate Star Sports for moving away from the more elitist games and venturing into untested territory by giving the push that it has to a traditional sport that is patronised by millions in the interiors but whose popularity remains largely obscure.

In doing so, the broadcast major has achieved what no government has been able to do all these years – giving a much-needed global visibility to kabaddi and its players. And that should be the biggest reward for all its patrons. It is not for nothing that a whole lot of sponsors are investing huge amounts in sponsoring Brand PKL.

Co-founder of PKL, Charu Sharma, is bang on target when he contends that for every sportsperson, it is about competing at the highest level and being recognised and rewarded for the blood, sweat and tears. On that count, PKL is indeed the game-changer and one that has gradually upped its stakes on the popularity charts to emerge as the second most viewed event in the country after cricket.

Buoyed by the massive response, the organisers have not only reinvented the sport but have also gone in for two seasons in a calendar year, which comes as a significant paradigm when one considers similar IPL-like leagues introduced in other disciplines that are struggling to survive.

A shot in the arm, which may give it sanctity like no other, is the decision taken by Indian Defence Services to allow its players to make their debut this time around. Hopefully, this will translate into long-term gains for the players given that it could possibly open up job avenues in the not-too-distant future.

This should serve as a lesson for government and private agencies to throw open recruitments under sports quota, which remains in near-dormant limbo. PKL has not just taken kabaddi to exalted levels but has also ensured that the generally presumed notion that kabaddi is a rustic sport that is fancied by those coming from rural backgrounds is removed, once and for all.

Meanwhile, it is rather ironical that for a celebrity, who is being hounded for his ‘intolerance’ comments that saw him losing out on the ‘Incredible India’ endorsement it was Aamir Khan who rendered the national anthem at Visakhapatnam. Some poetic justice, this!

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