Corporatisation of sports leagues in India: can India become a sports super power?

Muktha Kantaraj Tavane, winner of the essay competition receiving the first prize from activist and actress Swara Bhaskar at Slant 2016

By Muktha Kantaraj Tavane

Sports have hung around in the lives of Indians from quite some time. In ancient India it was chariot racing, sword fighting, hunting, hammer throwing and the like. Today it is cricket, hockey, kabaddi, wrestling and football grabbing the limelight. India is often referred to as the cricket-crazy country, but that was during a time when other sports were hardly given importance. Today, sports addicts find themselves in front of their tellies be it day or night.

Sports are not just a game but a source of entertainment and a platform for monetary business. Corporatisation of sports leagues kicked off with ICL (Indian Cricket League), and after that came the much worshipped IPL (Indian Premier League). Soon enough other sporting bodies plucked up the courage to industrialize their sport too. Hence begun Hockey India League (HIL), Pro Kabaddi League (PKL), Indian Super League (ISL) and Pro Wrestling League (PWL). The saga of sports has only begun.

Commercialisation has lead to the development of sports events. Now you can assess the value of a sport or a team under a sport. It has gained popularity and encouragement from the masses. Nearly-forgotten sports like kabaddi and hockey are on the path to glory. The more the money pumped in, the more national and international recognition they receive. Today you hardly notice simply clad sportspersons. Cash, colour, celebrities, cheer leaders, taglines, logos and songs have made sports events into a glamorous affair. Sportspersons have emerged as celebrities with huge fan following.

Thanks to the demand of the audience for more sports, there is advancement in the facilities provided to sports personalities. Better training, higher pay, more sophistication and good infrastructure are all contributing to the encouragement and involvement in sports. Broadcasters too are content. They believe that commercialization has lead to higher subscription and thus higher income.

Will India become a sports super power? Why not?

India is home to many talented sports persons. With the recent corporatization, India is recognized for the many sporting events it hosts. Such events bring people together, increase competitiveness and help sports grow.
India was recently given an opportunity to brand and manage ‘Formula One Race’. The event was well managed and India triumphed in organizing such an international event. What more can prove the expertise and capabilities of Indians?

Corporatization has given sports an advantage to grow. Leagues like PKL have gained such popularity but were in fact unthinkable at a time. If this can happen, why can’t India become a sports super power? India has the talent and the man-power to become a super power. Recognition, appreciation and quality training will further motivate talented sportsmen to reach greater heights. All they need is support and a platform and they will ensure India gains international success in the field of sports.

Muktha Kantaraj Tavane won the best essay prize at Slant 2016 conducted by National School of Journalism, she is a student of  ​Bishop Cotton Women’s Christian College, Bengaluru.

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