May 1, 2021

While the dark clouds of the pandemic loom large over the country, there is a debate about whether the IPL is a ray of sunshine for the people or simply an umbrella for the BCCI to milk its cash cow. Is it fair that while the country battles its dilapidated state, the festival of cricket goes on?

Let’s take a look at both sides of the story.

The BCCI has faced severe backlash from a major part of the population who believe that conducting the IPL while the country finds itself in such dire straits is inhumane and nothing more than a sham by the wealthiest cricket board in the world to increase its cash flow.

Journalists and fans who oppose the IPL being conducted at this time have not been shy to condemn the BCCI on social media. Noted journalist, Faye D’Souza tweeted, “ When we were children our parents told us not to play in the street when there was a funeral in the neighborhood out of respect for the dead and the mourning. Yet, the IPL plays in Delhi today.”
Like all things in India, some people have also managed to find a way to politicize the situation. They are of the opinion that Jay Shah, Secretary of the BCCI, who is also the son of Home Minister Amit Shah, has managed to gain approval to keep the money-spinner running because of his father, who is among the most powerful men in the country.

The BCCI, on the other hand, believes that the show must go on. They opined that the star-studded league provides solace to cricket fans all over the country during such dark times. A senior BCCI official said, “It’s probably more important now to hold the IPL when there is so much negativity around. We should not underestimate the power of sport to spread positivity. At least fans are absorbed in it at home. Otherwise, many of them will step out without masks. The league generates considerable money for the economy. It has to be seen from that context, too. How does stopping the IPL help?”

It is true that the IPL generates a huge amount of revenue but that does not make the organizers cold-blooded. The government has been reluctant to impose a national lockdown due to the economic consequences. That does not make the business enterprises carrying on their trade barbaric, does It?

Like cinema, sport is one of the biggest stress busters in the country and while the former has the opportunity to reach the audience through OTT platforms, there is no alternative to conduct sporting activities. Moreover, the IPL is playing its part to spread awareness besides providing the fans with a major reason to stay indoors.

The players, coaching staff and umpires have their tasks cut out. Forced to stay away from their families in such troubled times, they carry on their shoulders the huge burden of putting on a show for the desolate fans in the country. While most of them have risen up to the occasion, some have succumbed under the pressure. England’s Liam Livingstone, the Australian trio of Zampa, Kane Richardson and Andrew Tye, Ravichandran Ashwin and most recently umpire, Nitin Menon have given up their lucrative fees to be with their families.

Rajasthan Royals’ skipper Sanju Samson expressed his views on the ongoing debate and said, “ If our purpose this season is to be a positive diversion to those watching, then so be it. Before every match this season we have gotten into a huddle as a team and spoken about the situation outside and what our purpose is as cricketers. That has helped make our cause, if you want to call it that, much clearer: entertain those sitting at home in India and put a smile on their faces before they go to sleep. It really is as simple as that.”

Likewise, all teams have accepted the fact that this time around they are playing for something that far transcends glory and titles, they are playing for humanity. Many cricketers have even come forward to help the nation financially like Pat Cummins, Brett Lee, Shikhar Dhawan, Jaydev Unadkat and Nicolas Pooran.

Residing in a bio bubble and that too for two months can heavily drain the mental strength of the teams. BCCI has put in the best efforts to ensure the safety and sanity of the personnel. All the players were subject to a 7-day quarantine before they could get together. They are also tested regularly after every match for the virus. Injuries are a huge concern in every sport and despite the unavailability of hospitals during these times, BCCI has made sure that injured players are treated in isolation and stay safe.

Team management also has a huge responsibility to select where the team will stay to be isolated but still in proximity to the training grounds. Entertainment zones have been set up by each team in their hotels to kick back and keep their spirits high. Some players have also been able to bring their families into the bubble.

Everyone has their opinions about the situation of the country. And when it comes to cricket, every Indian is an expert. It is important to respect the views of every group and come up with the best solution. Our country is sailing through stormy seas and every positive news is like the wind to the sails, propelling us forwards. And it is safe to say that the IPL is one such gust that is spreading positivity.

Written By
Akshay Handa

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