The gold medal table tennis teams of India & Chennai Super Kings players  celebrate last-over victory  © Getty Images & AFP
The gold medal table tennis teams of India & Chennai Super Kings players celebrate last-over victory © Getty Images & AFP

 The Indian Premier League has always occupied the minds of Indian masses. The whole idea of IPL was to make cricket more popular (it was already the most popular sport in India  by far) and unearth domestic stars. Cricket in India has always been regarded as the go-to sport, a recluse for the public. Over a decade down the line hockey perhaps continue to remain relevant; the same holds for football, thanks to the European leagues; but other than those, the likes of wrestling, badminton and shooting — sports in which India have done reasonably well in the 21st century — faced a challenge to stay alive.

IPL has been a money-minting property for BCCI. In fact, the IPL profit enabled India to invest money in other sports as well. They have so far contributed INR 50 crores to National Sports Development Fund (NSDF) apart from donating to AIFF and PT Usha Academy. Sadly, due to no income tax exemption, BCCI are not being able to help Olympic or Commonwealth Games sporting disciplines.

Come 2018, and IPL is clashing against Commonwealth Games, which is being hosted by Gold Coast, Australia. Blitz marketing and acquisition by Star India have made it difficult for SonyESPN to telecast games to a larger audience. The streaming app for CWG is nothing to boast of, while Hotstar has been crashing records by the match.

Lack of reach is one of the major factors that see people lose interest in the games. India have been on a medal-hauling spree in Australia winning 59 medals as this is being written. This is their third best-ever tally. Out of these, 25 are gold medals, 16 are silver and 18 bronze. Unfortunately, apart from hardcore sport-lovers, no one seems to pay much attention. The Indian trends in Twitter invariably witness IPL trends ranking above their Commonwealth Games counterparts.

IPL’s viewership success can be attributed to its telecast hours, during Indian prime time. Despite that, stronger support was expected of the Indian sports-lovers. In the cricket fraternity a handful (Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag, to know a few) have congratulated the successful athletes, but that is about it. Players need to realise that IPL does not bring international laurels, while a medal in these games go a long way in bringing other sports in limelight.

BCCI should have been more aware about not scheduling IPL at a time when Commonwealth Games are underway. It would have been a logistical nightmare but perhaps, at some level, national pride should have been prioritised over moolah.

One can only hope that India, as a nation, support her less privileged sports stars to the same extent as they laud cricketers, forever the crème de la crème of Indian sporting scene.