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Boosting Sports


The manner in which the Indian cricket team whitewashed the South Africans in the test series, with two follow-ons and large margins, indicates the manner in which it dominates the sport today. There are only a couple of teams that can match the Indians. It has become the habit for supporters to take India’s wins for granted and they are severely surprised when others score an occasional win. Without a doubt, in any tournament and whatever the format of the game, India is the team to beat if a trophy has to be won.
The primary reason for this dominance is that those in charge of Cricket have managed to build a successful economic model. It is not that cricket alone has talented sportspersons; it is just that after attaining a certain level, a player of the sport can make a decent living, which is not the case with others. This has been done by changing the formats and introducing tournaments like the IPL that attract a large number of spectators. Cricket, early on, also became a much viewed sport on TV, further increasing the revenues. Innovative technology has been adopted over time, not only making the game fairer but also exciting. Barring a few, commentators have also helped in making viewers aware of the finer points of the game.
Attempts are being made to boost other sports in the country, such as football, kabaddi, badminton, etc., but with nothing like similar success. Intelligent people need to get together and identify what needs to be done for increased spectator interest, both, at the venues and on TV. (It may be noted that Virat Kohli has expressed concern at the low turnout at the Ranchi Stadium where the latest match was held and suggested identifying five dedicated test venues to ensure presence of spectators.)
One way of developing a sport is through tapping into the loyalty element. If competitions are held at the grassroots levels between players and teams belonging to the smallest communities such as colonies, schools, municipal wards, villages, etc., a support base can be built. This would expand once the players and teams make their way up the ranks. Of course, this would require setting up of facilities at this level and an element of investment by the sports bodies. The government could provide necessary funding for this to some extent. The results would more than justify this by bringing in the medals on the world stage.