The “Undisputed Religion of Sports in India – CRICKET”
Is it on “Roads to Ruins”??
The most widely known secret in our country is that CRICKET IS RELIGION. So much so that when The Men in Blues get onto the field, almost the entire 125 Crore population, waits with abated breath for Six or Four from the Indian Blades or those wickets from the Indian Balls. That is the relevance of this sport in the average Indian Minds. And the folks that “RUN” this “BUSINESS” what role are they playing in shaping this sport’s future? This is a Million Dollar Question which the Cricketing Pundits will continue to debate till the cows go to the moon. This broadly was the topic that our very renowned, knowledgeable and articulate Speaker shared his views on at Rotary Bangalore.
Mr. Prem Panicker is a very senior journalist and media professional with over 3 decades of experience in traditional media, digital media and narrative journalism. Having founded the entity which went to become Rediff.com & being the Editor of NY based India Abroad and Managing Editor of Yahoo India, RCB was fortunate that we got to hear such a renowned persons’ views on this hugely sensational matter, given that he was a Cricketer in his own rights in the yesteryears.
He had the audience in splits with his unique humorous way of expressing his views from the time he opened the floor with “Cricket Administration in India way back was very badly run and it is interesting to note that today it has successfully managed to weave itself into a stage of being horribly and downright stupidly managed and Administered.” It is quite interesting to note that a coterie of people say that “Cricket Administration has gone to the dogs” when these very gentlemen were the ones running this Association (BCCI) and possibly responsible for bringing it to the current state of affairs. He went on to express that one of the key issues that made things very complicated was the involvement of Supreme Court and the Lodha Committee report and its later implementation of the COA (Committee of Administrators).
Prem was also one of the people who was personally involved in the Lodha Committee Investigation and spent some considerable time in the deliberations with the 4 member Lodha Committee; however he found that the committee was trying to delve into what all went wrong and possibly fix issues of the past, bordering on witch hunting in some form; instead of taking a stance saying “Let us draw a line right now and here, learn from the mistakes of the past, draw up the norms and rules and possibly revise the constitution completely and comprehensively with buy in from all stakeholders (read as member Associations) and move forward in a progressive manner.” That, he feels, may have been the right thing to happen.
Cricket in India from 1996 has become a BIG BUSINESS with huge money (Endorsements, Ads, Eye Balls, TV Rights, etc) and a very profitable one at that. Needless to say, this started attracting many politicians and “wanna’-be-administrators” who may or may not be the best suited for that role, but as they say “Where there is money, Might finds its way”. And while the Administrators were all busy politicking and ensuring that the coffers of BCCI gets richer; there was little or no “strategic focus” on what could be the right way to make the Business of Cricket more successful and profitable. And even lesser “focus” on how to ensure that there is a complete revamping of the Constitution of BCCI and implementation of the same in an effective manner overlooking petty personal agendas of the men who wield power. What needs to be understood is that Constitution of BCCI (which is a 100 year old organisation) was meant to enable Cricket in India; had little or no funds at its’ disposal; would barely even pay the Sportsmen and Officials for their services; was surviving on contributions made by the pre Independence Royal Families’; etc. And this had changed significantly once Cricket became a BIG BUSINESS; in fact arguably the BIGGEST BUSINESS in the world of Entertainment and Sports. Needless to say there was a need for recalibration which for some reason, missed the attention and minds of the Men in Power.
Even the COA (Committee of Administrators) appointed by SC has been in intense inaction. The formation of the COA and appointment of some people as COA members by SC itself is a highly questionable action, since ideally SC should have formulated norms for who should be appointed as the SC. More over SC possibly overstepped its’ authority by getting into non-legislative matters (something which SC is now becoming a master at) and should possibly not have got into defining how BCCI should generate revenue etc. Appointing a COA which has close to NIL Administrative experience did not help the cause any further. Lack of existence of an Ombudsman further enhanced the challenges of the way this sport would develop.
NET NET, the fact is that BCCI is a very cash rich organisation and Cricket in India is a very profitable business. But the Administration of Cricket as a sport is one of the messiest in the world and what misses these Administrators mind is that if it was well managed, this Sport in India would have flourished so much better and the Business of Cricket would have been so much more profitable. Missed opportunities are the bane of this mis-administration. And clearly we are on the “Roads to the Ruins”
Prem was an eloquent speaker and had the audience in awe through-out his address.
Rtn. Manoj Nair