Sports stops becoming entertainment when there is emotional connect

MUMBAI: Does sports stop being entertainment when one starts rooting for a team and gets emotionally attached to the game?

Interestingly, this was one of the comments that came forth during a discussion at the Ficci Frames which sought to examine the correlation between sports and entertainment. Former cricket Ajay Jadeja sought to link the two by saying that the involvement of Bollywood was the key to the success of the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Other speakers were Triplecom Media chairman and CEO Kunal Dasgupta, actor Rahul Bose and former Indian hockey captain Viren Rasquinha.

It was noted that the IPL Governing Council glamourised the event to expand its reach, and people who otherwise would not have come for cricket came to see Shah Rukh Khan and other celebrities. Dasgupta admitted that when Max started on the IPL journey, the focus was more on entertainment rather than on emotion.

Bose said the game was beginning to be taken more seriously then as mere entertainment. Dasgupta noted that women and kids have now started watching the IPL. He admitted that bringing in Mandira Bedi in 2003 had been aimed at bringing in the glamorous quotient.

Even the IPL succeeded only because of the entry of giants as franchises of teams, he said. “The BCCI initially did not want to go the franchise route for the IPL. We told them to do this and allow for celebrity ownership and not just faceless corporates. This helped put a face on teams that people relate with’.

At the session it was also noted that actors are more effective marketing tools than cricketers even in the sporting world. It was observed that this was why more Shah Rukh Khan T-shirts are sold than those of Saurav Ganguly or any other cricketer. Indians have grown up more with Bollywood as opposed to sports, and cinema has been a cultural centre. In any case, it was said that cricketers or other sportspersons are not as savvy as actors when it came to marketing themselves.

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