While cricket continues to hog the limelight in the Indian media, others stand ignored
THEY SAY football is a matter of life and death. I don’t agree, I think it is much more than that,” said a famous sports commentator, displaying the mood of a quintessential British football fan, where the game is a rage, while the national sport of the country is cricket. On the other hand, cricket has unparalleled popularity in India, which is also a former British colony. It works as a uniting thread for an otherwise pluralistic society. The latest IPL fast-track format has only escalated the process.
The fact that India is a sport-loving nation can be gauged from the fact that there are a-dime-a-dozen channels and publications dedicated to sports. However, the irony is that 80 percent of sports coverage is dedicated to cricket.
journalist at an award function commented that in India, only cricket can sell after Shah Rukh Khan and Ekta Kapoor. When Shah Rukh Khan, tried to endorse and promote hockey through a commercial movie, Chak De India!, the national game managed to gather some public attention, but the rise to fame was short-lived. As much as these matches were reported exhaustively, the glitter of the stars from the pantheon of Indian entertainment industry made sure that this domestic event was not missed.
Once the first season of this cricket extravaganza got over, media tried to cover the Olympics, which is the biggest sports event in the world. But the focus remained on the grandeur of the opening and closing ceremonies, while the actual events were given least importance in coverage.
When Parimaranjan Negi and Vishwanathan Anand climb the international ranking hierarchy in chess the media turn their attention to them only when they are at the summit. One hardly finds an advertisement starring an Abhinav Bindra or a Baichung Bhutia, or even the latest sensation Yuki Bhambri, while Dhoni, Tendulkar, Yuvraj, Kumble and their teammates are raking in all the moolah and the eyeballs.
It is clear that if the obsession with cricket continues and other games are ignored, India will have to be content with bottom-of-the-ladder status in not only Olympics but also the Commonwealth Games, which are going to be hosted by India the next year.
Kaushik studies at the Amity School of Communication, Amity University.