New Delhi: Cricket in general was an entertaining sport, but the introduction of IPL in 2008 turned it into a carnival of ‘cricketainment’. The entire ecosystem around the game had changed drastically which uplifted as well as created livelihood opportunities for thousands of people.
The old-school cricket puritans may fume about players preferring club over country, criticise the over-dressed players, the promotional hype or the after-match parties which used to happen earlier, but they can’t deny that the cash-rich league has created direct and indirect jobs for the thousands.
Over the years, the IPL has played a key role to create a robust sports industry in India, and build an ecosystem that provides jobs to plenty of individuals, not just during the tournament but beyond the game season. There are people at work on ticketing, logistics, food, security, merchandising and official uniforms, etc.
When the IPL started in 2008, the league, companies as well as franchise hired overseas professionals because the local talent did not have enough experience or expertise to handle the running of a tournament of such a big scale. But that has changed drastically now. Today, most of the staff that works on the IPL are from India.
Most of the IPL owners are either industrialists and established movie stars and they also had no experience of running a sports league. But they have also evolved with the time, and with the IPL into its 15th season, the franchises are run 100 per cent professionally, which also create specialised jobs.
Whether it is fitness trainers, physiotherapists, tournament operations staff, photographers, videographers, there are specialists, who take care of different aspects of running the IPL, just like other global leagues do.
The IPL has not only helped cricket grow. The contribution of the league goes beyond it. The IPL has also inspired hockey, football, badminton, wrestling, kabaddi, badminton to start own league. The higher number of leagues means more job opportunities for the people involved in the ecosystem as people now look at sports as a year-long activity with serious investments and marketing spends.
The IPL is having its 15th edition and there is barely a season without a bit of controversy. Every year, there is a debate on “whether the tournament has lost its sheen”, “are sponsors still keen”, and “are the audiences still interested”, but the IPL has weathered all these storms, and even the pandemic.
The Invitation to Tender (ITT) for the IPL media rights will be floated soon, which will be followed by the e-auction and according to industry experts, the combined value of the rights for the next five-year cycle (2023-2027) could be close to Rs 50,000 crore — a big jump from the current rights holder’s bid of Rs 16,347.5 crore for 2018-2022.
Overall, the IPL has created a market of its own, strengthened the sporting ecosystem and provided jobs to thousands of people and it will increase further in future.