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B Baskar

IPL: Time to say enough is enough?

| Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on July 17, 2015

Chennai: File picture Chennai Super Kings' official Gurunath Meiyappan with his father-in-law and ICC chief N Srinivasan. Meiyappan has been suspended for life from any cricketing activity by the Supreme Court-appointed Justice Lodha Committee on Tuesday in connection with IPL scam. PTI Photo (PTI7_14_2015_000192B) *** Local Caption ***

For the IPL fans, the show must go on

So Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals will play no part in the next two editions of the IPL tournament. The plight of the fans of both these franchises is really sad since both these franchises have built a loyal following over the last seven years.

Now, some may argue that it is unfair to make the fans and the players pay for the skulduggery of the franchise owners and for quite a few this may even sound logical. But the Supreme Court, quite rightly, could not trust the BCCI to stem the rot and decided to hand out ‘exemplary’ punishment as a deterrent to other franchises, given the way the cricket board tried to brush things under the carpet a couple years ago when the spot fixing scam blew up.

But from the fan's point of view is it time for a reality check? Is it time she got wise? After all. right from its inception, the IPL has been caught in swirls of conflict of interest issues, opaque ownership patterns, shady financial transactions and what not. In fact, it even cost a Minister of State his job. Maybe, it is time for the Indian cricket fan to say enough is enough and turn her back on the IPL.

Logical, but unlikely to happen. To find why, we may have to take a peek into the sport fan’s heart. Which brings us to that curious modern phenomenon of sports fandom. Now, why do we follow sport? Because of the excitement and drama it brings to our humdrum lives of daily drudgery. Then, the magic of the sport iself and the ability and the grace of the sportspersons, their perseverance and determination to succeed. Albert Camus’s views on football have been done to death and the legendary CLR James has an entire chapter on ‘It’s not Cricket’ in his classic Beyond a Boundary.

But to my mind there is one crucial factor which overrides all else and that is the ordinary fan’s ability and willingness to suspend rationality and reason as we know them.

When the spot fixing scam broke in 2013, the fans were scarcely bothered by it and turned out in full strength at the stadiums. IPL was one big party and everybody wanted to be a part of it.

Let me give you a couple examples from the world of football. English football during the 1970s and the 1980s was rife with violence and racism. Now I’m sure there must have been plenty of English fans in that era who were appalled by all the hooliganism and the racist abuse hurled at black players. Yet, that didn’t deter them from filling up stadiums every weekend and giving full throated support to their teams. In fact, it took the Hillsborough disaster and the tragic death of 96 Liverpool fans for English football to clean up its act. Football fans have often been called ‘tribal’, a description I’m sure most tribals around the world will find insulting.

Italian football has been mired in scandal and corruption right from its inception more than a hundred years ago. Through the 1950s and the 1960s, Brian Glanville wrote extensively about the corruption in Italian football. But did all that make any difference to the common fan? The answer is a resounding no. In fact, when Juventus were relegated for a season in 2006-07 as punishment for influencing and bribing referees, fans were ready to ignore the shenanigans of the club officials but supported the team and players, which the players gratefully accepted.

So, given this peculiar mental make up of the sports fan, the BCCI need not worry about the popularity of the IPL waning. It would be interesting to see whether any corporate group would rise to the challenge and start a rival franchise to the CSK. Anyone for Madras Madcaps?

Personally, I will not shed any tears for CSK or RR as I have never been a great fan of the IPL itself. Call me old school but for me it is Test cricket. Besides, a CSK defeat has never hurt as badly as a Tottenham Hotspur loss to Arsenal in a North London derby or an Inter Milan loss to AC Milan in a Milan Derby. Now if that’s not irrational, nothing is.

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Published on July 17, 2015
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