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Sport, skill and the lure of money

The performance of teams in the Champions League just goes to show that a collection of outstanding talent stitched together by the lure of money is no guarantee against losing, writes Pradeep Magazine.

cricket Updated: Oct 16, 2009 23:55 IST
Pradeep Magazine

The performance of teams in the Champions League just goes to show that a collection of outstanding talent stitched together by the lure of money is no guarantee against losing. The IPL teams, which have cost their owners a fortune, are being beaten, at times quite easily, by state teams sans any stars, of other countries.

I wonder if there would be a rethink on the part of the franchises over which, and at what cost, to buy players in the next round of auctioning. If Bush Rangers can beat Royal Challengers and Trinidad and Tobago can knock out Deccan Chargers then is there a need to spend a fortune in buying the best-known talent around the world?

These are questions which came to my mind after reading columnist Santosh Desai’s article, in which he lucidly argued that excellence in sport and the desire to do well and beat opponents should not be linked with the money a player earns.

Sport is a harmless activity, even meaningless in context of the world we live in. It is a universe in itself, complete with its own laws and rules which are absolute and can’t be broken. The thrill and joy of playing and mastering the intricate skills of a sport is an end in itself, the reason why millions around the globe indulge in this activity.

If today sport has become a mass entertainment industry which generates billions and makes some players millionaires, this is not to be grudged. But to always link performance with money and to believe that the more one earns the better one will perform is insulting the individual who never kicked a ball or picked up a bat to make money.

On the contrary, it is also possible that the more one earns the less one feels motivated to give one’s best, especially if the pressure of expectations becomes a burden hard to bear. When the well-meaning Board official Ratnaker Shetty talked about how post IPL some youngsters are losing their desire to do well for India, he was articulating what many had already feared.

It is possible that a young man, who is earning more money by playing for a month in a year than he would by playing for his country for years, could lose his appetite for a big fight. If this is what Shetty is hinting at, and there are many who agree with him, then this lure of money is doing more harm than any good to Indian cricket.

Not everyone can be a Tendulkar, Dravid, Kumble or a Ganguly. There will be many talented players out there, who will get sucked in and destroyed by a system which worships money more than the skill of a player.

Which brings me to the point that why blame youngsters for losing their way? They are immature, prone to temptations in a world where even mature adults do not find it easy to handle fame, glamour and money.

If we fear that IPL has become a monster which will gobble young talent, who should take the blame? Those who created this creature or those impressionable minds, whose talent is on auction and on sale to the highest bidder?

These are questions that a self-aggrandising cricket board which has always believed in ad-hocism and gloats over its bulging bank balance, won’t want to address.

The mirror on the wall only reflects what one wants to see and not the true picture of one’s own self.