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National pride vs prejudiced IPL

india Updated: Mar 14, 2009 00:20 IST
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It will be a sad day when cricket in the sub-continent becomes a victim of terrorism. It may have already happened, with Pakistan bearing the brunt. India too may not be far behind and if those who administer the game don't respond with care and sensitivity, this million-dollar industry could come to a grinding halt.

Nobody is saying that the Indian Premier League should not be held this year. But the aftermath of the horrific Lahore incident has thrown up a debate on whether it will be prudent to hold it during the period of the general elections, as India may not be able to provide proper security to the tournament.

With cricketers themselves now as targets, it is a concern which should consume all of us. What is rather sad and unfortunate is that the cricket administrators and the corporate world which owns the teams, seem so obsessed with the losses they will suffer — monetary and brand promotion — that they seem hell bent on hosting the event, even if it means pressurising the State.

One obvious reason for this adamant stand is that if the tournament is postponed, it can't be held at all this year. The Board not only suffers monetary loses — which is not much given its bulging pockets — but more importantly, it fears a loss of face and clout in international cricket.

The franchises, who in this time of meltdown have already suffered major losses, are not willing to take a double blow — no money and no brand promotion. The players, for obvious reasons, and the fans too want IPL to go on for the highly entertaining evenings it provides. So, the spoilsport here becomes the Indian State, which from the perspective of the promoters should even postpone the elections! What strikes me in all these discussions is the brazenness with which some of the Board officials are dismissing the security threat. They would even go ahead and host the event with the help of private security, which their money power can afford to buy. They almost give the impression that the State is a hindrance and too weak to protect the interests of the people (Read IPL).

The whole IPL debate is being linked with National Pride and we are being told that if the event is not held, India's image will suffer. I did not know that my national identity is linked with Punjab Kings playing Rajasthan Royals and with the brands being promoted through it!

That there are enough people willing to buy this argument is a triumph for those who know how to sell, even if one day it could be your own nation.