The presentation of the Indian Premier League on television is more like a post-modern satire on consumerism, as Rahul Bhattacharya so perceptively analyses in his Mint column, making it a parody of cricket where it is hard to discern sport from advertising blitz.
Even though a cricket fan in India is used to this onslaught, the IPL coverage has merged the line between selling products and scoring runs so brazenly that one almost gets the impression that the only motivation behind hitting a six or knocking out a stump is to sell a particular brand.
Whenever runs are not pouring on the screen, the advertisers take over and deluge you with one ad after the other, knocking down the viewer almost breathless. The finishing touches are provided by the commentators who hem and haw, scream and shout as if it is the first time we are being introduced to cricket.
It is a world where time is so precious, that the cost of a second lost to playing actual cricket is valued in thousands of dollars.
The captains of the teams and even the players are learning the hard way that the value of time is the essence of life, only that the word life here is to be substituted with the word dollar. Money is of such vital significance here that each extra minute spent from the scheduled time costs the captain and every member of his team a fine of thousands of dollars.
If the delay pinches a small hole in the player’s “huge” pocket, it also helps the broadcaster to stuff his pocket with more money. The delay means more time for the broadcasters to show ads and make money. Can there be a greater example in the history of sport of a money-making genius in action!
In this game, the captains are not allowed to spend even an extra second to strategise because the organisers have been magnanimous enough to sanction strategic time of two-and-a-half minutes each twice in an innings. When this “strategic time” was introduced in the second IPL, the players first reacted in horror. Who needs a break in a short innings of 20 overs as it needlessly disturbs the momentum of the game.
In this season, a compromise has been worked out and the time for television channels to show “strategic ads” has been reduced to 10 minutes (two-and-a-half minutes each, four times in a match) from the 15 minutes in South Africa (seven-and-a-half minutes each per innings).
As IPL is set to expand its global reach and showcase India as a sporting superpower, it should immediately patent this greatest “strategic innovation” of our times and the entire consumerist class around the world should be beholden to the man who thought of this concept.