All the people who watched the IPL final are the reason why fixing will never go away. You’re all complicit.
— Devanshu (@dbackwardpoint) May 26, 2013
It is a shockingly aggressive accusation of everyone, including myself, that was watching the IPL final on Sunday. And it has taken me a couple of days to figure how exactly I feel about it.
On the one hand, it was kind of a buzz kill. Not in a bad way, mind you, because when else should one make such a statement? Before the match when no one is paying attention? After the match when everyone has stopped caring? No: you make it during the final itself, when Twitter is crawling with IPL fans. To do it any other time would be cowardly.
But it did make me feel like a bit of a chump.
Which brings me to my other hand: he was right.
Cricket is beyond corrupt, and spot fixing is a symptom of a march larger disease, but either way: we as fans are part of the problem. Every time we tune into a match, purchase a ticket, or buy an online subscription we are telling the powers that be that we are totally happy with, as Devanshu put it later, “business as usual.”
And you will notice I did not single out the IPL either. There have been spot fixing convictions in Test cricket and County Cricket. As I have mentioned in previous posts, singling out the IPL solves nothing. This is cricket’s problem, not the IPL’s problem.
So what to do then?
That’s one course of action. Stop paying for anything cricket related. Turn off the computer and go outside. Attack the powers that be where it counts: their pocketbooks. And if enough people do that, the sport will (hopefully) take notice and make attempts to heal itself – or if not: die.
But that is a course of action that most of us, myself included, are simply unwilling to take, because we cannot pick and choose and say “I will watch the Ashes but I am going to boycott the IPL.”
It’s all or nothing – or nothing changes.
Another course of action is to do what baseball fans in America did with regard to steroids: hope someone else fixes it for you while you keep on going to games and buying Barry Bonds jerseys. It took an investigation from the United States government to force Major League Baseball and the Players Union to implement a testing system with actual consequences.
And so we just keep watching cricket and hope the ICC, or the United Nations (??), or a third party helps us out of our jam.
But that is another course that I am not willing to take. First of all, it will never happen, and second of all, while it might make me a hypocrite, I am going to continue to speak out against all of the meaningless matches and the sport’s relationship with gambling organizations.
And that’s third course right there: telling the powers that be that “business as usual” is perfectly fine, we are all just going to complain about it now and again.
And maybe the third course is exactly what the sport needs.
I am a big believer in the important role journalism plays in a democracy. A strong and independent press is vital to its very survival. And yet good journalism is going away. Probably forever.
Cricket has an army of wonderful journalists covering it. But they are all beholden to page views and subscriptions and ratings.
But cricket has something else that is not beholden to those things: its strong, vital, and diverse blogging community.
And so I am going to keep watching, but I am also going to keep writing. And I hope all of my fellow bloggers continue to do the same.
It’s okay to watch the IPL final, but it’s not okay if you do not use your voice to speak out when you see corruption ruining this sport we all love so dearly. We can longer afford to turn a blind eye.
And that is my call to my fellow cricket bloggers: if you see something, say something. It is vital to cricket’s survival.
Sooner or later, they will start listening.