Promoting other sports in cricket crazy nation
CRICKET is a religion in India. Ever since the 1983 World Cup win, it gave India its first major sport post the colonial era. Clearly cricket’s reach, thanks to the media, has been phenomenal.
People still complain that cricket doesn’t allow other sports to develop. But there have been several other instances, when Indian sportsmen have conquered the world. Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi in Tennis, Saina Nehwal in Badminton who is almost getting to the top, Pankaj Advani in Billiards, Jeev Milkha Singh in Golf, Prakash Padukone and Gopichand in badminton, Abhinav Bindra in shooting now. The list of sportsmen doing well in other sports is indeed high. May be we just haven’t noticed.
The IPL, an initiative of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), has already made other cricket boards around the world sit up and take note of the way the game is being sold to big business houses and film stars. The stakeholders have realized that the game is a sure shot for handsome returns from the investment.
It has to be accepted that money is essential to promote sport in a big way. It’s high time for all the sports federations to take the initiative like the cricket board and market their sport in a strategic manner to attract private sponsorship. The other sports bodies must learn how to market their product in order to lure corporate sponsors.
For society, cricket has become a priority because it is marketed well. The same way, other games can be made priority, if they are marketed well.
The recent deals of the basketball and football federations with IMG Reliance is a good sign of marketing efforts taken by the National bodies in Basketball and Football.
Even the concept of BFI in paying honorarium to the basketball players is a good sign for the promotion and development of basketball in India at a professional level.
It’s high time that the other sports federations have to follow the path and market their game.
But one thing is clear from the outcome of IPL. There is a simple but a big lesson for other sports bodies, “market the game or perish”.