Watching a football match can be exhilarating. Unlike what cricket has done —change its rules drastically — football has never made any major compromise with its basic structure. Today’s marketing gurus will tell us that football was made for the present times, and that is why one should honour the man who invented this game centuries ago. He must have been a great visionary, who could see deep into the future and realise that the value of entertainment lies in its brevity and not in its length.
And when we are told that people of our generation don’t have the time or the patience to watch a sport that lasts for five days or even a full day, you marvel at football, which is just right for the ‘impatient times’ we live in.
The beauty of the game lies in it being subtle, tactical, and at times, even slow-paced despite its short duration. No one is forcing entertainment down our throats or screaming at the top of their voice that short is sweet. Football won’t be what it is if its playing time is halved or doubled.
That brings me back to cricket and its bastardised version called T20. It is now the new entertainment and, if our marketing wizards are to be believed, it can even threaten football's popularity some day.
If millions in India can watch a three-hour film and get entertained, there is no reason why sports fans all over the world cannot get used to enjoying a three-and-a-half-hour sporting drama on the field.
Isn't 90 minutes too short a time and seven hours too long a time to watch gladiators in action? The right balance could be a three-and-a-half hour on-field action.
Who knows, a century later, people would be marvelling at the visionary Lalit Modi who ushered in a new revolution in world of sport.
India and Modi are not the only ones who may have found that right balance which could make cricket the game of the future.
There is an American, Allan Stanford, who may have been the first man to realise the potential of T20 by introducing a league in West Indies before IPL came into existence. And now he is going to give Rs 80 crore as prize money to the winners of an England-West Indies three-match contest.
He is also splurging millions on making T20 the new face of world sport. The BCCI and Modi must be turning green with envy as, in their scheme of things, there is no place for any ‘rebels’ in the forward march to make cricket the number one money-making sport in the world.
One was given to believe that there is an international governing body called ICC, which runs world cricket. But that no longer seems true as Modi has already announced who will take part in the proposed Champions League, and that all those who have played in Subhash Chandra's League will have no place in it.
It is a small matter that as many as 25 ICL players play in English County and, if reports are to be believed, the English domestic teams are worried and concerned that the Modi diktat could leave many of them ineligible for the tournament.
This must be one of the greatest victories for India in their humbling of the British supremacy. English, worried and concerned, and at the mercy of an Indian!
In a world where might and money are right, India seems to be on the right path. And in the interlude to the
Champions League and the fights that might ensue between the warring factions of world cricket, watch the real beautiful game now playing on your TV screens every night to realise what entertainment is all about.