IPL 2021: Could we just rise above mere symbolism?

𝑼𝑷𝑫𝑨𝑻𝑬: π‘­π’“π’π’Ž π‘Ίπ’–π’π’…π’‚π’š, 25𝒕𝒉 π‘¨π’‘π’“π’Šπ’, 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒉𝒂𝒔 𝒃𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒂 π’„π’‰π’‚π’π’ˆπ’† π’Šπ’ π’„π’π’—π’†π’“π’‚π’ˆπ’†. 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒂𝒓𝒆 π’Žπ’π’“π’† 𝑷𝑺𝑨𝒔 π’…π’–π’“π’Šπ’π’ˆ 𝒕𝒉𝒆 π’Žπ’‚π’•π’„π’‰ & 𝒂𝒍𝒔𝒐, π’‡π’“π’‚π’π’„π’‰π’Šπ’”π’†π’” 𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒔𝒕𝒂𝒓𝒕𝒆𝒅 𝒕𝒐 𝒑𝒖𝒕 𝒐𝒖𝒕 π’Žπ’†π’”π’”π’‚π’ˆπ’†π’”. 𝑻𝒉𝒆𝒔𝒆 𝒂𝒓𝒆 𝒔𝒕𝒆𝒑𝒔 π’Šπ’ 𝒕𝒉𝒆 π’“π’Šπ’ˆπ’‰π’• π’…π’Šπ’“π’†π’„π’•π’Šπ’π’ 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒂𝒓𝒆 π’…π’†π’‡π’Šπ’π’Šπ’•π’†π’π’š π’Žπ’π’“π’† π’•π’‰π’Šπ’π’ˆπ’” 𝒕𝒐 𝒅𝒐.

First things first, the Tone deafness of the tournament cannot be denied. There is no acknowledgement of what's happening around it and that's terrible. The least you expect is them to acknowledge the losses of lives & appreciate the services of the health care workers. It could be done through a minute of silence before each game. Many more things can be done to acknowledge the situation and be empathetic. As Raunak Kapoor from ESPNCricinfo stated in a tweet, β€œSport is a platform that can be used to reach out to people and show that you care about them”. Sadly, BCCI hasn’t been able to do it till now. There’s no doubt about that.

Now, coming to the issue at hand. IPL has always been the soft target. As I write some publications have decided not to cover the tournament. Then, there are others who want it cancelled. Why?Β  Some argue that when there's so much gloom around you can't allow this glitz and glamour show to go on. Firstly, it's more than that. Secondly, what relation does it have to the crisis? Will stopping the IPL solve the problem that our nation is facing? No. So, why should it be cancelled? Just Symbolism one says. It just doesn't look right. I would say that's where I have an issue.

Symbolism doesn't help any cause. It's just something that's symbolic & has a near-zero effect on the problem as a whole. It's not the first time, IPL has come under this symbolic storm though. Remember, 2016 edition? If not, let me, summarise. So, in 2016, Maharashtra was facing drought & that year, IPL had two teams from the state, Rising Pune Supergiants & Mumbai Indians. So, the crux of the issue was that many argued that a lot of water is used in the maintenance of the pitch and grounds & it's not right to do it in the current environment.Β 

So, A lot of PILS was filed and it became a matter of TV debates. At face value, it looks like a valid point. Especially if Resources of common people were diverted to fulfil the needs of the ground. But that wasn't the case. BCCI was purchasing the water (that too, non-potable) for that purpose. Eventually, they were asked to shift their matches to Vizag. So, Did shifting the venues help to solve the water crisis in any way? No. But symbolically, it was a success. Also, let's not forget that even if matches are shifted, you still require a certain amount of water to maintain the ground. Another thing to be noted how Golf Fields went under the radar when there's literally more water consumption there than a cricket ground.Β 

What would have been a better solution? Asking the BCCI & The franchises for a certain percentage of gate money that could be used in drought relief measures. They could have asked them to make people aware of the situation and do fundraisers for that purpose. Actually, the franchises were even ready to pay for 40 lakh litres of water from their own pocket to supply to the struggling areas. But who cares about that? People were happy with the symbolic gesture of shifting the matches which had a near-zero impact on the situation.Β 

Why are we discussing this today? Because it's related to the current situation in our country. In no way, am I comparing a drought with this pandemic but what I am saying is no matter what the situation is IPL is always the soft target. We are facing a lot of difficulties be it for bed, plasma, oxygen. Etc. There's no denying that. But is cancelling the IPL going to help in any of that regard? No. While a good amount of resources are used in conducting the tournament, They don't get directly transferred to the public if the tournament gets cancelled. It doesn't work like that. Β 

For many, IPL is just the glitz & glamour they see on their screen. But people tend to forget that it's a means of livelihood for many people. Not only the cricketers who are in front of the cameras but many behind it too earn through it. Some teams are hired on a contract basis. There are so many individuals that it directly or indirectly employs. There are so many freelancers who have been exclusively employed for covering this tournament. There are people who are isolating and this is the only thing that's keeping them sane. Why should one ignore these factors? Β 

So, What's the solution? I feel that there should be much more talk about the Covid situation in the coverage. The importance of Masking and Handwashing should be pushed in a better way than just some banners during the game. BCCI & franchises should be asked to raise funds & contribute to local relief funds. The host broadcaster should book an ad slot for the vaccination message which should be championed by the cricketers like Kohli, Dhoni, Rohit. etc, especially considering that from May 1 vaccinations open up for 18+ citizens. The ones who have recently recovered from Covid, can donate plasma & spread the importance of donating plasma too. These are some constructive suggestions that would end up contributing something to the cause than the mere symbolism of cancelling the tournament.

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Kartik O

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Kartik O

A Cricket fan who has some opinions. Can be found at @Kocricket528 on Twitter !!!