WORLD cup of Cricket has begun on February 19 and will continue till April 2, 2011 for a month and half. In our country this has become a popular game and has now become a national game or so and has virtually replaced Hockey which was once a national game. Behind this popularity lies a number of phenomena which are important to understand. Similarly there are many factors which we should understand that will bring changes in our life and in future generations.
How cricket has become popular through media and MNCs; Why TV is the most powerful media for advertising; How urge of making money has brought other media agencies, politicians and businessmen into this game? Resulting into a self sustaining powerful system.
It will be interesting to know how it has become popular game and how it has brought about changes in various fields? If we analyse the evolution of cricket in the country in last 20-30 years that is after arrival of TV, we find that TV has played an extremely important role in making cricket popular. However, it is not TV alone, which has made it popular. Actually after liberalisation of economy in 1991, arrival of MNCs in country, has helped in making this game very popular. Cricket is the most powerful game for advertisement of products of companies. Hence lot of money was pumped into it by businessmen both from India and outside. But, the true potential of cricket to sell one’s products was realised by MNC’s first and then by Indian businessmen. The real breakthrough could be attributed to the use of cricket telecast to sell soft drinks. As cost of chemical soft drinks is very low, their manufacturers have lot of money to advertise the soft drinks and they have used it intelligently.
Why cricket is the most powerful medium for advertisers?
It is quite well known that cricket is a very powerful medium for advertisers because crores and crores of people can see the game live. However, there is a need to go into some detail to understand it further. Actually there are two major factors in this context. The first is that this is one of the game which conclude not just for one day but even for five days and even months together. And many people are watching them for all days and for full days and so they will be watching advertisements also several times. This is in contrast to other games which are played for just one hour or few hours like football, volleyball, basketball, swimming competitions, running races or shooting competitions etc. Hence it is not possible to show advertisements for long times in these games. However, this is not the total story. The real characteristic of cricket is that there is a time gap between two consecutive balls, which can vary from few seconds to almost a minute or so. It is this time gap, which is used by advertisers to show their products. Thus in a one day game of 50 overs. Each team plays 50 overs that is six hundred (600) balls are thrown in one day. Hence the total number of intervals (slots) available to show advertisement is nearly equal to five hundred ninety nine (599). If these intervals are shared by five companies then on the average each company can show their advertisement almost 100 times just in one day, assuming that only one advertisement is shown in each interval. All other media (say print media) do not have this capacity, because their advertisement will be seen only once or twice. Also even in TV, unless a programme continues for whole day and for many days, only then advertisements can be viewed several times. The way softdrinks have entered into mind of crores of Indians can be easily attributed to this process. Ofcourse now many Indian companies are also entering into this fray.
Creating new heroes to sell products:
Through this nexus of media, industrialists, politicians and businessmen, new cricket heroes are created and then products are advertised through them both “online through live telecast themselves” and “offline through other media in non playing time. ”
Money making in cricket:
Once money starts pouring into cricket, several agencies comes into picture. First print and electronic media are used to communicate and create an atmosphere as cricket is the only game in the country. They will show past records, big photographs and minutest details of the game, scoreboards and even lot of personal details so as to produce a real havva of cricket. As almost one lakh of people see the game live on ground. The money comes from this, but this is peanut. Actual money comes through advertisement shown in TV during the live telecast. The money earn in second case is much more than the first. As this is a powerful media for advertisers, their sales go up due to very successful advertisements and so the industrialist and businessmen earn lot of money. Looking at so much money, many other parties also jump into the fray, which includes politicians and bookies. The worst part of the story is that even government controlled Doordarshan has many times shown cricket for full day and for several days, by dropping many crucial programs of importance for the country and even the time of news were being changed. Is it justified for a country like India ? Essentially it has become a nexus between big industries, media and politicians. However, except for money they do not look at anything else.
Does frequently interrupted “Live Watch” causes stress?
As is well known, advertisements are shown after each ball, it means telecast of actual match is frequently interrupted 599 times in one day match of 50 overs. It will be interesting to investigate whether the persons watching such interrupted matches have a large amount of stress as compared to a live telecast without such interruptions. There is a need to have a research by a team of psychologists and social scientists.
Does cricket make the youth dull, lethargic and inactive?
A very important impact of cricket telecast is that it is being played for several hours or even days compared to other games which are of much short durations. Hence cricket players on the average do not require much stamina or energy at a given time. So we find that most of the cricket players have less physique compared to players of football or basketball or racers etc. However, the worst part is yet to come. As live telecast is seen by crores of people for hours and days together. Persons watching these live telecast virtually do not require any energy or stamina. Only their eyes move on the TV screen and not even the body at all. Even if some are motivated to play cricket after watching some matches, their physique can never compare to those of football players. The situation of those who are just watching only is still worst because their bodies are not at all used. Hence nothing surprising that they may be weak, inactive and passive. Also impact of cricket is so much so that people do not play other games in the country at the scale which is required for a country of our size. So what will happen to the health of these youths who are just watching telecast or playing cricket. Will they not become weak and lethargic, dull and inactive? If we look at the modern youths deeply involved in cricket, this observation seems to be true and can be validated. A set of scientific experiments can be planned to explore this topic further. This is just an example of psycho-physiological feedback.
How National games have gone into the background?
Everybody knows that recently 36th National games were played in Ranchi (Jharkhand) but its reporting in media was just insignificant. Government is also not paying sufficient attention to these games. Actually National TV channels should give full time televised broadcasts, but it is not there at all. What could have been a backbone of Indian sports and a forerunner for the next Olympics has been reduced to a non entity. The long term impact of this game is very horrified. For a country of one hundred and eighteen crores, there will be heroes only in cricket and very few in other games. Hence it will badly affect our medal rally in coming Olympic games and other international games. The future generation will be very weak and dull. Many good sportsman who have highly developed skills in other games are deprived of honors and/or respect in the society. Hence there is only skill development of cricket everywhere in the country. Do such mono skill development practices in sports are good for future of the youths because only eleven players can play in the National team?
This system and Gandhian Economics:
As MNCs and big industrial houses who are using cricket as a media to sell their products are all having big businessmen with large amount of resources with huge infrastructure and network of agents quite widely distributed. Hence they are all running monopolistic businesses. Therefore it is virtually impossible for small businessmen to participate in this type of advertising. In the long run the businessmen of unorganised sector will be in deep trouble. Hence this is very much against Gandhian Economics which talks of development of all and opportunities for all and is badly required for our country where population is biggest asset.
Cricket a new type of slavery:
If we combine the effect of all the above factors, it appears that modern cricket and the associated systems are taking us to a new kind of slavery in a very organised and an intelligent way, may be even without our knowledge. It is not we Indians alone, who are the real sufferers but almost all people of the all countries who were once slaves of Britishers and are now playing this game are moving towards this feeling of slavery of a new kind, more refined and obtained in a modernised way using modern technologies, plans and strategies of the modern time. No weapons, no arms or no ammunitions are used and target is achieved!!
As the system of cricket and associated sub systems is a new phenomenon in the country and is strongly affecting the society, hence it is suggested to plan some scientific experiments to validate some of the hypotheses mentioned above. Three specific studies will be (i) to verify that the process of telecasting cricket with constant interruptions by advertisements causes stress in the minds of regular watchers, (ii) the relative strength, stamina, and power of players of football, volleyball, basketball, kabbadi is higher than those of cricket players, (iii) Too much commercialisation of cricket is affecting other games in the country. Some multidisciplinary teams are required to study these ideas in few universities.
What can we do ?