Minutes after the probe panel's report went public, a top BCCI official chose to look at the bright side of things. "The good thing the Supreme Court has done is that the IPL auction has not been stopped. It will happen as planned for all the teams in Bangalore (on February 12 and 13)," he said.
Now answer this: were you pleased or disgusted when you heard/read about this development (it was on TV around noon)? Much as we lose our cool when N Srinivasan defends Gurunath Meiyappan or, for that matter, when Raj Kundra acts like an innocent cowboy, the truth is that all this doesn't make us hate the idea of IPL. In fact, we love it even more. We hope time flies in February and March. We can't wait for April to come our way. We can't wait for mom to voluntarily give up her saas-bahu soaps and watch the IPL with diligence. Why, like that BCCI official, we, too, can't wait for the auction to begin.
From late-night parties to unpaid cheerleaders, from tax issues to foreign exchange violations, from betting charges to fixing allegations, the IPL has always been mired in controversy. Alas, it's this very potent mixture called 'cricketainment' that enhances the popularity of the league. That's precisely why it's a smashing hit.
"Controversy is a part of the format of the IPL. In fact, controversy is the middle name of the league," says brand manager Harish Bijoor. "The IPL is irreverent cricket and not like five-day cricket that is played in whites. It is a masala mix of not only what happens on the pitch but also off it, including the parties, cheerleaders and more. It is not a game, it is cricketainment," he adds. "People are keen to know what is the next big controversy and they love it. More the controversy, the merrier it is. Controversies add to the charm of the IPL."
According to Bijoor, diehard cricket fans felt cheated when the spot-fixing allegations came to light. "None of the controversies will affect the popularity of the league. But when you talk of fixing, it hurts people. If it is proved, then people will feel cheated and get angry," he warns.
The BCCI, on the other hand, says the credibility of the IPL hasn't been affected. "Whatever happens, people still love the game. Many things happens in football, too, but people still follow it keenly.
Unfortunately controversies are a part of every sport. Every game has its critics and there will be controversies too," says Niranjan Shah, a former BCCI vice-president and an ex-member of the IPL governing council. The Saurashtra strongman, however, refused to comment on the ongoing controversy.