Monday, December 13, 2010

We, the Bet-ters

“We, the ‘Bet-ters’ of India, do hereby solemnly resolve to make ‘Bet-ting’ one of the biggest revenue earners for the country. And in this endeavour we would appreciate as many followers as possible…because with every addition, there would be an exponential increment in the output.”

This is the solemn pledge—though unscripted and unuttered audibly—taken by a large cross-section of the society…at times consciously and at other times circumstantially. And with globalisation of everything…from the weather changes to economy…this pledge too has found global acceptance. Yes, acceptance and if not acceptance at least not rejection also.

To take the best (ideally termed, the worst) example of the usage of this word is in the game of cricket. In fact cricket brought the term ‘bet-ting’ popularity and fame and in return became infamous. Well, everything is relative—it all depends from whose perception the issue is being considered.  Even earlier too betting used to operate, unabated, but in recent times it has shown a ‘remarkable’ growth! In fact it is one of the ‘better’ professions—as far as the income and job vacancies are concerned. Actually vacant posts are absolutely infinite in this profession…Thus ‘bet-ters’ can claim to be in a profession of a much ‘better’ yield…that has an added security of having an immunity from recession.

But staying with the ‘bet-ing’ in the cricket scenario, apart from the professional ‘bet-ters’--who get better everyday—are we not ourselves, abetting bet-ting?  Please think…

Do we find this menace of betting to have infiltrated others sports? And even if it has, the magnitude is well below the danger mark that normally attracts the attention of the media—print and electronic both—because given the hawk-eyed approach of media nothing can stay hidden for too long.

The popularity of the game in India transcends all other sports—thanks largely to the iconic players that we have been producing over the years and are of unimpeachable integrity. The accolades received by them are well deserved. So though cricket has made them what they are today—game being bigger than individual(s)—it is undeniably true that their feats and stature…not only as players but to some extent as human beings too… have gone a long way in ensuring the unbelievable popularity of the game. But this popularity gets extended to the extent of insanity due uncontrolled emotions of the people.

At the same time the players hadn’t ‘planned’ to make the game popular. It was their un-deterring dedication towards—complemented very well with commensurate talent, determination, devotion and discipline—fulfilling their duties when on the field and at the same time doing the job that is (was) closest to their heart, as also carrying themselves commendably off the field as well, that has had a cumulative effect. This in the long run has fetched India so many accolades…achievements of the individuals getting translated into a collective accomplishment for the team as well as the for the country.

This popularity for the game was never meant to bring the game so much shame.

But that has happened and hence I state that we have abetted betting—in fact caused its exponential growth. The logic lies in the ‘supply & demand’ theory of economics. The popularity of the game is directly related to the growth of betting. There could be no other reason…other sports being relegated to the secondary status…by people and almost non-existent by ‘bet-ters’. As other sports are neither popular to even a fractional extent as compared to cricket nor do they find any takers in bet-ters.

Bet-ters too would be drawn to where the general public is drawn…because to them, people are synonymous to money (currency) with the revenue generated being entirely dependent on the (fan) following for the game. And that is what has happened.

Under the circumstances, what could be done? Nothing it seems. Because the people who love the game would watch it, throng the stadiums, …allowing the sports channels to vie for the telecast rights as they know fully well that they would be able to regenerate the money that they invest. It is because of a select class of people, from amongst us, who indulge in such undesirable acts. And we cannot ask the fans not to watch or follow it…after all it is their money and their desire…dependent solely upon their discretion how it would be used and achieved. Science too is being used as a bane. But that doesn’t mean that science ceases to be a boon. It only depends on who is handling what.

With this IPL (Indian Paisa League) even the politicians are finding it difficult to stay away from their love of the game…after all the current of currency is in operation! So the circus of betting seems to get bigger with infinite potential.

There are many things…improbable though…that could be tried to check this menace…other than the legal actions. Legal actions alone cannot stop it…so long people are not morally uplifted. But what we could do is by at least behaving a bit responsibly. Excess of anything is bad. Maybe then there is a limit to an extent the sport is followed…instead of lapping up anything and everything that is served. I know I am suggesting something that would be highly unpopular. But then it is a probable option. Think it over. A collective consciousness on the issue is required. Whether you want to become popular by giving popular suggestion or an unpopular one? The excessive popularity has though taken away the tag of ‘gentleman’s game’ from cricket.

The decision to some extent rests with us. Because you bet, advertently or inadvertently, we and our money is abetting the bet-ters, which most certainly makes us, “We, the bet-ters”.

Copyright ©  Sushmita Mukherjee