Sports As A Global Phenomenon

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Sports a global phenomenon in human history taking the world by storm, by producing the best athletes to participate according to nationally or clubs. A test series is played for five consecutive days in two innings on the other hand, IPL matches consist for 3 hours with non-stop entertainment. Cricket is complicated to people who have never watched, played or had a passion for the game but in India, it’s equivalent to religion. During soccer world cup the entire Spanish nation is united for the match similarly cricket in India not only unites people but religion also. A country where players are treated like gods, prays chanted for the wellbeing of players this definitely shows the amount of dedication and love the nation has for this game. The fever of cricket overshadows every other sport in India including its national game hockey. Today, the sports business is enormously increasing the countries national economy as well as other corporate sectors. Previously, cricket was symbolized as a gentleman’s game however, these days it is considered as entertainment business for showbiz at a professional level.

The original name of cricket was called surrey that was played by schoolboys during 1550s and during the century the game was widespread amongst the rural population, countrymen also known as peasant game according to (Underdown, 2006). Somehow, the earnestness within elite member began in the 18th until John Nyren published the scores of games in a magazine called The Town later reprinted with the original title ‘The Cricketers of My Time’ (Underdown, 2006). Mostly famous and renounced families understood the seriousness of this sport promoted during the Victorian period. Although, it developed from England’s rural areas but was highly regarded as a competitive game whereas over the years it grew as ‘English national pastime’ including games like soccer, horse racing and rugby. During the British era, cricket was diffused to countries captured and occupied by British troops and foreign settlers including Commonwealth nations who actively supported this sport, albeit not all (Kaufman & & Patterson, 2005, p.2). Cricket was a sign of superiority and racial status while non-white members were restricted from playing. Towards the 19th century, this game was adopted by West Indies and gradually the popularity increased dramatically. While in India, the European colonist formed their own team with local top-notch players demonstrating the country’s ability as a cricket destination (Kidambi, 2019). Certainly, with the Britishers ruling not only economically and politically they also established cultural imperialism to other parts of the world through cricket.

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In the following years, India was one of the few countries to play cricket at international level and select players within the country. Gradually, people developed a positive impact on cricket, but unfortunately, no media coverage was available, somehow radio was the only means for commentary. When India won the world cup in 1983, they were the talk of the country since general public wanted to see and know their hero’s that’s when media draw its attention towards cricket through a limit scope. Media played its role as well as creating endless possibilities that benefited both parties together. This indeed was the first official mingle between sports and showbiz at global level. (Subramanian, 2008).

In 2007, Indian Premier League (IPL) paved ways for cricketers from various nationalities to form respective teams playing against each other. After T20 international tournament cricket gained popularity and received an overwhelming response from people across the globe. This idea was made into reality in 2008 when Lalit Modi former vice president of BCCI (Indian Premier League : How it all started – Times of India, 2003). This was the first attempt to build a sports brand franchise across south- east Asia, based on the popularity of sports. Subsequently imitating the English Premier League and National Basketball League (NBA) a clear vision was to create a similar format (Ghosh, 2015). With the adoption of western culture, this format has proven sensation amongst the masses in India including the entertainment sectors, celebrities, advertisement and media company co-sponsoring this event (Indian Premier League : How it all started – Times of India, 2003). Moreover, replicating another concept of the American version was the auction system wherein, the bidding event represents cricketers across different nationalities to be auctioned for. This process continues until the bidder has place the highest amount in comparison to the others, foreign buyers are also welcome to purchase. The bidder who won has the advantage to own his team representing any city in India. There were three major reasons contributing towards the success of this game – length of the match, timing and important foreign players (Karhadkar, 2018). Surely, players from international countries participating in this tournament would carry their cultural diversity to India infusing a multi blend in the game through advertisements and endorsements. Audiences at home witnessed their favourite cricketers as a part of their home team making it a perfect opportunity to explore the game.

When the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) launched IPL initially, started with eight teams and a certain prize money making it one of the wealthiest internal cricket tournaments in India. The concept of auction was derived from the American sports and infused into cricket (Lavalette, 2019). During IPL bidding nearly 500 top players made their way out of thousands thereafter, a ceremony is held to auction each play once that is done a squad of 27 members per team is formed. Although, previously clubs played against each other but here the eight team with resemble different states with the country.

Usually, IPL is always played in India but in 2014 due to general elections, the possible matches were subtly shifted to an international venue in the developed Middle East countries (Davis, 2016). Since India’s election date was tentatively scheduled during the mid of April and IPL undoubtedly continues for two consecutive months it was impossible to merely continue with the game. Formerly, multiple locations like Bangladesh, South Africa and UAE were carefully selected options to conduct these games however, UAE projected to be incredibly efficient in infrastructure hosting matches in the past, direct flights connecting both the countries obtain another advantage for hosting this event (Samiuddin, 2014). Most of the matches were held at three different emirates cities Sharjah, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Before the impressive start of the first match, an anglophone commentator welcomed the overwhelming crowds from various nationalities with a slight South African accent referring to the world largest live cricket show on the globe. According to Davis (2016), IPL initially was a minor part of India’s coordinated project that emitted the country name sooner along with private investors investing in IPL viewed this imagination of India as a global spectacle. IPL undoubtedly proves to be a worldwide sensation not only in India but all over the world.

The reason contributing to the success of IPL was due to media intervention. Media has taken cricket to masses in several forms like advertisements on television, sports columns in newspapers, magazines and other sources. Certainly, cricket tops the priority list and the reason is clear: cricket is in demand. Many foreign channels like Sony, Fox Sports, Star Sports, Star India have bid auctions for broadcasting and media rights but Star India paid a hefty prize covering entire India distribution rights, digital as well as the rest of the world for a higher cost (Viswanath, 2017). The CEO of Star India expresses his happiness proclaiming cricket can be watched from any part of the world is an achievement towards growth and popularity of from one nation to another. The Indian media has played an integral role in fostering a strong connection between citizens and the nation through the broadcasting of cricket matches involving all crickets irrespective of their foreign denomination. Social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter witnessed an upsurge during 2017 IPL tournament 20 million conversations were sent across these websites (Jha, 2017). However, unsurprisingly India has the largest viewer population albeit, surprisingly the United States had the second biggest audience a country not known to give much attention to cricket. The increasing commercialization of the game along with social media presence has ignited nationalism as Indians looked towards cricket to assert their global identity.

With the ultimate end of British occupation in India marked the beginning of cricket as a routine for entertainment, business as well as the appropriation of patriotism and modernization. The media has been instrumental in spreading the game to remote villages across India as a result, smaller towns also get to enjoy the sport. A few years ago, sports were a medium of captivating restricted only to live games on television but these days reduction in data cost and bettering connectivity, online platforms are becoming essentially vital sources of live streaming. Newspapers and news channels can no longer remain aloof from this fact and have accepted cricket as an integral part of this process. IPL is regarded as the premium sports league of the country having incredible value for its stakeholders, franchisees, as well as international brands like Pepsi, Samsung, Nokia, Daikin, World Expo, were co-sponsors during these events (Mishra, 2020). IPL receives a huge chunk of profits in the form of sponsorship, business ventures and media right. With the Indian diaspora dispersed all over the world due to globalization, the media has been vastly influential supporting communities to cling on to their identities through the televising of cricket matches.

As a part of the ceremony, there goes a saying, in India cricket and celebrities go hand-in-hand whereas IPL was the perfect opportunity to endorse a brand, movie or support a team. Additionally, famous Bollywood superstars had purchased teams belonging to different states. Adding a highlight to the event is international artist like Major Lazer and Chris Brown showcasing their performance during the inauguration ceremonies (Massey, 2016). Earlier, cheerleading was definitely not a part of cricket but, replicating the standard format of all sports across the U.S, IPL also introduced this concept as an element of this game. They had to adopt the Indian way of clothing as per the state national costume and dance accordingly (Carson, 2015). Inviting popular singers displays the collaboration between national and foreign personalities blending a homogenization of culture.

The Indian Premier League has entered its 12th session this year, a complete rollercoaster for cricket’s biggest league since its inception in 2008. The tournament has constantly been embroiled in controversies, but yet manages to grab eyeballs somehow. Nowadays, corruption of sports like match fixing is quite prominent almost in every sport whereas, these games are prearranged well in advance with certain players and outsider operators. Mostly, violation of rules, regulations and laws as well. It’s considered one of the fastest growing global crimes in sports, a convenient means of money laundering and rapid transaction of money betting for example when a side deliberately loses a game or continuously aims for wide it is pretty well understood of the situation. These gambles like match fixing and illegal sports is evident during government scrutiny as well as grabbing media’s attention. While there were speculations floating around since the inception of this event at least four members from a team were involved in match fixing including foreign players claimed former commissioner Lalit Modi making revelation on Twitter (IPL: At least four Chennai super kings players are involved in fixing, claims Lalit Modi, 2015). According to an undercover investigation carried out in Mumbai by Al Jazeera’s news channel unveiled a member claiming to payoff cricketers during matches. The match-fixer foretold the involvement of several players and how their participation in the game would be. A small portion played according to the bidders fetches a huge amount depending on the series played (Harrison, 2018). Among these storms IPL faced another controversy as well as adding to their problems was renowned BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) president son-in-law and others members were accused for fixing the match between two teams. However, the case was handed over to the local court of further investigation (Police case for IPL match fixing filed against srinivasan, son-in-law,2013). Bringing this incident to light means disrupting the process and highlighting people involved in this act but there are few players whose name have just being added to this list. Australian cricketer Shaun Trait, has taken legal action against the media for including his name in spot-fixing scandal during IPL whereas, it was broadcasted on Twitter and the radio (Angry Tait slams incorrect spot-fixing reports, 2013). Surely, media’s intervention is required to portray every angle of the game but precautions and research should definitely be considered before naming any allegation.

IPL has paved a path to entertain people across the international borders nevertheless, along with the entertainment comes a hand full of other negative aspects reflecting the reality of showbiz. The way south America breathes soccer similarly Indian breathes cricket. Indians worship cricketers as gods and enjoy each match is watch with the same thrill and enthusiasm. During the initial years, the game flowed smoothly with the presence of former IPL founder Lalit Modi setting the system in place. After which several controversies followed, Pakistan players were forbidden to participate in the tournament due to Mumbai terror attacks. The cricket board refused to grant permission to enter India. Secondly, in 2011, South African cheerleader exposed the ill treatment received by cricketers and committee members. Scandals, corruption cases and other minor tantrums works conjointly with IPL (Menon, 2012). Other concern, stated by a qualified coach, is majority of players ignore training practice and fitness sessions in order to build physic and muscles that’s not required for the game (Mathur, 2019). This league boosted the economy in number ways like creating job opportunities in different states, umpiring, security forces and majorly ticket selling generated a huge revenue in the country. In 2014, when UAE hosted the event it contributed an enormous amount of 275 million dirhams boosting the country economy and tourism sector (Tiwari, 2018). However, keeping in mind, events can have an adverse and unexpected consequences leading to media involvement and public unwanted attention, with media having influential power on social and cultural impact in society.

Taking everything into account, the peculiarities of cricket creates a strong urge for people to watch and visually participate in this sport. Players representing different nationalities are globally admired for localizing sports and its culture during IPL. The arrival of a new league has added brightest to the game right from the beginning to form a cosmopolitan identity. Post industrial globalization excess pressure was put on the game in order meet public expectations. Creation of franchises where international players are auctioned at the highest bid. Wherein, business and sports are collaborated to form a new venue. An Indian visionary to reproduce a similar version of NBA and English Premier League football within a short span of time. Cricket is a hegemonic sports culture with a rapid growth of media involvement, male dominance, cultural imperialism and modernization of culture. The presence of Bollywood was felt as celebrities purchase their own team, cheerleaders danced on every “boundary and wickets” (Cricket, lovely cricket, 2008). Among these allegations like tax evasion and scams, money-betting, showbiz the true spirit of cricket is hampered.

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