Dear Supreme Court: Please focus on Cycling, Swimming or Boxing; Cricket can take care of itself

Supreme Court Intereference in Cricket

Supreme Court has a lot to say on BCCI functioning, IPL and billions that flow through it. It appointed the Lodha Committee on January 22, 2015 after the Mudgal committee, appointed as an investigator into the IPL 2013 scandal, submitted its report.  The committee, comprised of retired Chief Justice of India, RM Lodha, and retired Supreme Court judges, Ashok Bhan and R Raveendran.

The Supreme Court , based on its recommendations, came down heavily on the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), saying that its mandate was to promote cricket in the country but it had done nothing to develop it. While BCCI can, of course, do a lot more to promote cricket, the court’s advice totally ignores the fact that Cricket is unquestionably the richest, most popular and most successful sport in India. Cricket is played by the crores and has better infrastructure at school or college levels than any other sport in India.

On Wednesday, the bench expressed its displeasure over the manner in which BCCI lavished funds on some state associations while ignoring others.  Lodha panel seems to have directed banks, where BCCI holds accounts, not to disburse “large” funds to the State associations

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This may result in calling off the ongoing series between India and New Zealand due to freezing of funds and cans seriously harm Cricket in India, probably the only sports that is self-sufficient. Clearly, some  people can’t tolerate a sports association that funds politicians rather than live off their hand-outs.

Honourable Judges may have good intentions for interfering in Cricket. But why is the court then spending a disproportionate amount of its time on a silly game called Cricket?

Name a sport where India is among the top teams in the world or a sport where the Indian association is the richest national body in the world or one that can fill the largest stadiums anywhere in the world by screaming Indian fans to watch their spoilt but talented superstars like Kohli and Dhoni. If your answer is anything other than cricket, please don’t read any further.

And then there are sports, not called cricket, where India is nowhere in the world and Indian sports bodies are mired in petty politics to personal gains. Indian boxing, where India is considered a decent mid-ranking power, has its association banned for years due to undemocratic functioning. The Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) was suspended by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) for election fraud, that resulted in Indian boxers having to participate in International events, including Olympics, without any administrative support. Indian boxing has lost a decade due to mismanagement but no one is bothered.

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The Indian Olympic Association itself was banned and elections declared “null and void” by IOC in 2012, claiming government interference in a vote that could result in a tainted official taking over as secretary-general.  IOC’s Pere Miro, then in-charge of relations with national Olympic committees said the ban was triggered by both government interference and bad governance by the IOA.

Indian athletes shamefully participated in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia as Independent Olympic participants, competing under the Olympic flag, as the Indian Olympic Association had been suspended by the IOC since 2012

At the world level, we are almost invisible in Swimming, Cycling, Fencing, Gymnastics, Athletics, Football, Basketball, Handball, Table Tennis and so many other sports that live hand-to-mouth on state doles.

Some critics say that Supreme Court too got involved because of the billions of rupees flowing into Cricket and not for any love of the game.

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The Supreme Court judgment of July 18, 2016 states: “Needless to say that the BCCI and all concerned shall cooperate and act in aid of the Committee and its directives.” This seems like a directive to virtually takeover the gentlemen’s game.

It’s not that Cricket is totally clean. This game had its share of cheating, betting, drugs and sex scandals. Politicians wield undue influence on  Cricket, at least in India. Every Politician – from Sharad Pawar to Anurag Thakur (BJP MP and son of the former Himachal Pradesh CM Prem Kumar Dhumal), has tried to manipulate and control this cash cow.

But politicians do the same in almost every other Indian sports body. It will be great if Supreme Court can invest an equal time with other sports that need transparency, professionalism and funds even more desperately than cricket.