Saturday, March 31, 2007

The Beginning of the End of Cricket

One may laugh at the very idea of it. Cricket and End? Impossible you may say.

All big ideas, big technology, popular notions were thought to be invincible at one point of time. Cricket as an idea of national engagement also stands at this juncture of history. Its fort is being attacked. People are to a noticeable extent, even if temporarily disengaged with this King of the games.

What I witnessed was no where near to a hype that a world event like World Cup would create. The level of enthusiasm was definitely questionable. Going beyond this happening, its interesting to know why and how we reached at this stage.

Everyone knows, this King of the sports has been ruling the hearts and minds of the people since a long time. The crazy fans, the discussion that happens long after the matches are over, the vividness of the pitch happenings, the rage over failures, the celebration of the victory as if its a personal achievement and all that.

Anything carried to its illogical heights meets the same fate. Is education one reason for this. Or the blessing of sensibility on the people. The slow but sure penetration of Tennis, Hockey and other sports. The myriad number of activities that provide people options of watching and doing things other than cricket or a combination of all this. Some media giants like Zee Sports are investing upto Rs.500 crores to glamourise Football.
The rage and furore that was displayed after India's defeat, soon came under heavy criticism. A strong rumour was also that it was staged by the huge number of Betting gamers who lost huge sums of money. Otherwise, Indians at once seemed to display non-sportiveness. Burning the effigy of the players, attacking their homes and all other non-sense things. Cricket was not a sports any more, it was a religion. And elevation of this sports to a height like that was ridiculous.
People at once were awestruck by their own over-attachment with the game. All this combined with the fact as I mentioned earlier of various options that are now available to the people, one can clearly see the over-hype of the game coming to an end.
This has an important implication for the marketers too. The Time Zone factor of course kept the FMCG giants away from the game this time. But marketers and advertisers are soon realising the virtue of tapping into niche games and activities where the attention of the target audience can be captured in a more coherent way than cricket where it is absolutely diffused unless the spending is big enough to buy huge ad slots. It may sound as a slightly inevitable option for marketers with less budget and it is, as a matter of fact: but these markters will eventually build the alternate sports in India. These sports have the potential to draw niche crowds with interests that are quite varied from a typical cricket fan.
There also needs to be a thorough research on why and how cricket became such a craze not just interms of the hype that was created but also in the nature of the game and the psyche of the people. It is hard to believe that giving the same kind of attention and hype will elevate the lesser mortals ( read football, hockey et al) to the same height as cricket.
CRICKET will never die. It will thrive but without its ugly face. And making many brothers and sisters on the way.
Shall I say, Way to Go !!?!!
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