Come summer and let’s all go to classes and camps, or go on long vacations!—was what people generally thought a few years ago. Until the ultimate cricket franchise known so far came into existence from the year 2008, that is.
The humble sport that the British came up with when in India spread slowly and it is now virally spread. Cricket in India has always been like an extremely revered religion, and has also been more popular than the country’s national sport of hockey. There have been cases aplenty of people betting, murdering one another, severing body parts over betting or personal wishes when they lost over their bets. No other sport’s history has been literally bloodier in India than that of cricket.
Furthermore, all this would reach the peak when the match has India pitched against Pakistan, and with other countries; should there be any diplomatic unease between the countries, that will be found to dramatically increase and fuel extra public tension when those countries’ teams were pitched against each other. Though a good sport, it is these things that turn the scene ugly.
The Indian Premier League which was doubted by many whether it would last for a while has somewhat unsurprisingly crossed those barriers and is currently in its successful seventh year, and it is ever more glitzy that how it started out at the beginning. Though, of course, the inception was no humble thing either.
There appeared fine ripples in the news all around when the IPL began for it was not going to be a mere tournament with teams pitched against each other, but much more. Bought by cash-strapped people—actors, industrialists and companies—to gain popularity and try their hand at something else, the teams were centered or themed around various states of India, representing that state, and the players were bought for the teams by way of auctions where every individual was bought and sold for thousands of dollars, all in the ever expensive USD exchange.
The IPL was a major success ever since its inception; the games went well with all seats sold out for the first few years on the basis that fans and viewers found great fervor in showing up for the matches as patrons of their home state. This was how the basic fan base was garnered, and the same remains so even now for a little.
Cricket that has always been a sport quite dull to the eye was made more glamorous with the unwanted addition of scantily clad foreign cheerleaders appointed for all teams, swishing their highly exposed narrow bodies to perfectly synchronized Bollywood numbers, sashaying their pompoms in the air. Cheerleading women are known to wear midriff baring uniforms with mini-skirts following a particular fashion of color coding, but the IPL brought the midriff-baring concept to a whole new height. This brought about much ire and protest from the conservative Indian populace to the chagrin of the team owners, and just about now, the uniforms of the cheerleaders on pitch are fully covered, while those of the cheerleaders in the studio where commentaries are made are clad in minis of everything except those boots. It is to be noted that the players for whose motivation in the game the cheerleaders were brought in hardly ever notice them; the concept might as well have been created to attract more people to freely throw glances at barely covered babes.
Players being bought and sold like sheep is pretty much common in the IPL franchise, and this is a reason why the true game sense is lost; most players partake in the IPL to earn big money, and don’t really play with a liking to the game. There are players identified only with their price tags, and not even their names!
Known to rake in big cash unlike other sports in India is cricket. The IPL is only the cherry on top for it sells exceptionally well both on the normal market as well as the black market, with specific tickets’ prices going up as far as 25,000 or 30, 000 INR. Then again, there are many who buy these tickets without a second glance. The IPL games of the current year is expected to gross the highest amount by way of tickets and such as owing to the 2014 Indian elections, half the numbers of games are held in UAE, and the other half in India.
With all teams promoting and endorsing so many brands, the IPL is more like one of the pillars of the entertainment industry than being a humble sport which is how cricket started out to be. This point is further supported with the owners of the teams themselves being major icons in the entertainment industry. Just as how international singers have exclusively choreographed glamorous music videos for their songs, all teams in IPL also have the same, in which the owners have stints, too. Nokia, Videocon, Reliance, India Cement, the Sun Network, Aircel and Kingfisher are some of the big names that are endorsed among the many others.
There were two teams who made a brief stint and were expelled out of the franchise for being unable to pay the required deposit money teams have to pay to participate—the Kocchi Tuskers Kerala, and the Pune Warriors India.
With more bling and glamour, and so many platforms of social media dedicated to bring live scores, and promotional offers to the fans 24X7, and mobile phone companies cashing in with so many contests promising rewards like autographed balls or posters, the feel that it is an entertainment industry and a sports scene is very strong.
In all, it is quite safe to say that the IPL can well stand for the Investors’ Premier League.