By Aseem Mittal
Art is a way of expression, recreation, association, identification and occupation, but more than anything, it is something that binds people together. Sports is a kind of art that brings people together. It is played at national and international levels. The players represent their country and win medals and trophies for their country. But in the current time, sports is no more sports. It is treated as a way to make easy money by adopting unfair means such as match-fixing, spot-fixing etc. The people who are involved in such activities are either connected to politicians or are politicians themselves. The players are punished because of such activities. In this paper, I would take the example of cricket and how politics has influenced cricket and influenced the historical evolution of cricket. The focus would primarily be on India.
Historical evolution of cricket
Cricket was played in the 16th century by the British. It was mainly played by the whites in Australia and England. In India the situation was a bit different. The first report of a cricket match in India dates back to 1792, but the game remained a British preserve until about the middle of the nineteenth century, when Parsees in Bombay first took it up, to be followed shortly afterwards by Hindus and then by Muslim (Majumdar 348). Earlier the main aim of the players was to win and the game was away from unfair practices. Cricket is given more importance in India than the national sport that is hockey. The support for this game has increased by time and people gather in large sum to support cricket.
Political influence on cricket
The main aim behind playing a game of cricket and also watching a game of cricket has changed. Cricket is losing its significance day by day due to the cases of match-fixing and spot-fixing. In tournaments like the World Cup, IPL etc, there have been cases where players have been caught under the acts of match-fixing and they have been banned by the BCCI. Recently, a television sting operation implicated five cricketers of the IPL in a spot-fixing scandal during the 2011 season. In a slightly older, albeit much talked about controversy, Lalit Modi – the architect of cricket’s most lucrative money-spinner – was removed from his post for having secret stakes in more than one franchise. Outside the Indian league, two international cricketers were convicted in a spot-fixing case in England, and there have also been reports of the semi-final match between India and Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup being fix. This shows that it does not depend on the size of the tournament, match-fixing is done in any kind of tournament. The main reason why different kind of people indulge in such activities is money. Money is the main motivation, but there have to be reasons why some people and sports are more susceptible than others,23 particularly given the professional and legal ramifications of getting caught. It is rarely money alone that is the sole reason for agreeing to participate in match-fixing. People are able to make large sums of money by match-fixing and spot-fixing. The influx of money, technology, and professionalism transformed the game of cricket into something that not just sportspersons, but people from professions such as administration, marketing, medicine, software, finance, television and media, and a host of other non-sport related fields could make a career out of.
Economic determinism is a term which would make this clear as in order to fulfill ambition a person takes part in such activities. The spirit of the game is spoiled because of such activities. The talent of the players is also wasted. Politics plays a major role in such activities as without the support of a powerful body no one a can do such things because there is always a chance of being caught. There have been cases in which the central body that is BCCI in case of cricket which has been involved in the cases of match-fixing and spot-fixing. “SUSPENDED Board of Control for Cricket in India president Narainswamy Srinivasan and three other officials are guilty of “misdemeanours” according to a panel investigating spot-fixing in the Indian Premier League, India’s Supreme Court revealed on Friday”. This a clear example which shows that the heads of the central body who are given the authority to make the code of conduct of the sport are misusing themselves and degrading the sport worldwide.
There are cases in which the players are who play are also a part of such malpractices. The players have been caught and had been punished by the court for their actions. August 2010—Pakistan international cricketers Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif and Mohammed Amir, and agent Mazhar Majeed, were accused of offences in relation to spot-fixing (a specific sub-set of match-fixing) during the international test match between England and Pakistan at Lord’s when no-balls were bowled at specific points during England’s innings (Carpenter 13). The court often puts a ban on such sports persons and these players have no work and their talent is wasted and life is spoiled. Besides players from other countries, there are many respectable cricketers from India who have been involved in the cases of match-fixing and spot-fixing. “Mohammed Azharuddin, the former India captain and one of world cricket’s finest batsmen, was banned from the sport for life Tuesday for his involvement in match-fixing. The Board of Control for Cricket in India, or BCCI, whose role in the matter had come under criticism from India’s federal investigation agency, known as the CBI, also announced bans for three other players and a former India team physiotherapist”. The players which are banned play a very important role in the team but because they get involved in the cases of match-fixing for money their team suffers and so their country.
I would like to conclude my argument by stating that politics plays a very crucial role in such malpractices. Sports is no more sports in the current period. The kind of illegal activities that are taking place is degrading the sport. The explain of cricket in this paper explains this. Money is an extremely crucial thing that should be given emphasis as all these activities take place only because money is involved in it. In the earlier times, sports were a medium through which people came together and supported their country. The spirit of the game increased its importance and the players would work hard to make the country proud. But now somethings have changed people still come together come together to support their country, but the players and the central body are trapped in the whole politics and are getting involved in cases of match-fixing. A thing which should be taken care of is that the players who are selected so that they can make their country proud are easily influenced by the evils of the society. It could be said that it is no more a gentlemen’s game as the purpose of the emergence of this game has been destroyed.
1) Carpenter, Kevin. “Match-Fixing—The Biggest Threat to Sport in the 21st Century?” Sweet & Maxwell’s International Sports Law Review (2012): pp 13-24.
2) Majumdar, Boria. “Cricket in Colonial India.” Harriss, John. Pacific Affairs, University of British Columbia, summer, 2009. 348-349. URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25608893.
3) NewsComAu. 14 November 2014. 20 april 2018.
4) Subramanian, Vidya. “Cricket in the Fast Lane: Politics of Speed.” Economic and Political Weekly (DECEMBER 15, 2012): pp. 21-24. http://www.jstor.org/stable/41720460.
5) TRIBUNE, PRADEEP MAGAZINE and INTERNATIONAL HERALD. Nytimes.com. 6 December 2000. https://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/06/sports/azharuddin-and-4-others-are-punished-for-cricket-match-fixing-former.html. 20 April 2018.
Aseem Mittal, the author, is a second-year student at the Jindal School of Liberal Arts.
Image source: Indian Express