IIPM-The Indian Institute of Planning and Management
So the time has come for the IPL to take off. As but expected, the ticket sales are pathetic. Or did you expect anything else? Well, when, for example, was the last time you went to watch an India-South Africa cricket match in a stadium? Looking blank?! There you go!! When was the last time you actually watched a Duleep Trophy match? Did you just exclaim, “Duleep Trophy what?!!?” All I can say is that if you haven’t been watching Duleep Trophy matches, then there is less likelihood of you watching any of the IPL matches. That’s exactly how much I think about IPL’s chances of success. [For the uninitiated, Duleep Trophy was started by the BCCI in 1961-62. In the 1962-63 season, four of the five teams (all except Central Zone) had their bowling attacks strengthened by a West Indies test player. Five Indian zonal teams regularly take part in the Duleep Trophy – North Zone, South Zone, East Zone, West Zone and Central Zone. And actually from 2003-04 onwards, the five original zonal teams competed along with a sixth guest team, which was a touring foreign team. The first guest team in 2003-4 was England A.]

Of course, I don’t want to demean the goodness in Shah Rukh Khan’s or Preity Zinta’s heart to promote the cause of cricket at a domestic level. They’ve really been so excited about it; in fact, more excited than those who have really put in their monies too! BCCI also pulled off a great coup in the seemingly managed bidding evaluation where Mukesh Ambani, SRK, Vijay Mallya and Preity Zinta, all got a team! That the selection was not stage-managed is something very tough to imagine; that too in a country like India! How much money they’ve realised till now out of the hundreds of crores at which they apparently sold the rights, will only be clear when one gets to see their balance sheet. One thing, however, is sure! If they have any money pending on the day the tournament begins, they can kiss it goodbye.
Some of you (who probably are great Duleep Trophy fans) might be wondering why I think so ‘highly’ of IPL’s chances! Well, for that, we need to analyse the origins of club culture in Europe and America. In these continents of more than 200 years of development and many more years of wealth creation, the cultures have been rank different. There used to be armies warring with each other over different cities; and once these got combined into countries or states, they kept their rivalries alive through sports clubs – club football and club rugby tournaments etc. The club culture is a part of their blood stream. Their often reserved seats are their prized possessions during the tournament seasons. The people sitting next to them are their best friends, and they are passionate like hell about their clubs. It’s a cultural thing in these countries, where the last time they actually thought of how to make their two ends meet was eons back. They progressed culturally enough to attach great importance to sports, thanks to the leisure time in their hand. And it’s not just clubs; at school level, the kind of sports that kids participate in is exemplary. It’s their way of living. But that’s not the only reason why I think IPL will fail in India.

IPL will fail in India primarily because of the fact that in Europe, for example, when it comes to football, people identify with their clubs perhaps more than they identify with their country. The reason is that their countries play each other very rarely, and throughout the year, it’s club football all the way. It’s just once in four years that they have the World Cup. Of course, then they support their country; but the moment their country is out, they start supporting those nations which have their favourite club player!

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