Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dont oversell the IPL

One of the memorable quotes following the Emergency in India, when civil rights were suspended in the mid-1970s, came from L K Advani, former Deputy Prime Minister. Speaking of the media which caved in without a fight he said, "They were asked to bend, but they crawled." A similar reaction - but at the other end of the scale - can now be seen in the media's reaction to the IPL. Perhaps asked to merely support the IPL, they have gone overboard and speak only in superlatives.

The IPL is the tomato ('is it a fruit or a vegetable?') of the television world - no one is sure whether it is sport or entertainment; obviously someone has already called it 'sportainment'. The roles behind the scenes overlap distressingly. The secretary of the cricket board is the Commissioner of the IPL; at least two members of the governing council, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri are also television commentators for the tournament, the treasurer of the Board owns the Chennai team.

This seems appropriate since Bollywood - an important element of the IPL - revels in double and triple roles for its leading stars in the movies. If anyone has even mentioned clash of interests, it has been drowned in the noise and hype of the tournament. Objectivity may be old fashioned, but if the 'independent' media act as marketing managers for the IPL (despite Lalit Modi treating them like the dust beneath his chariot wheels), can the average fan be blamed for getting confused?

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