Not Just Cricket: The IPL as the Politics of Speed

By Vidya Subramanian.

Published by The Sport Collection

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The idea of speed has become central to much of modern sport. Contemporary cricket in India is no exception to this trend. In the shift from test matches to one-day and then to Twenty20 formats, however, there has been a profound reworking of the internal biology of the game itself. Cricket is no longer played out primarily for ‘spectators’. Rather, the speeding up of the game has become contingent on redesigning cricket into a ‘platform’; which is now animated by combining hitherto unrelated elements such as businesses, advertising, technology, and even Bollywood. In particular, the Indian Premier League (IPL) has made profound transformations in which the traditional building blocks of players, administrators, and coaches have been sutured, in varying combinations, with politicians, businesses, film stars, physiotherapists, nutritionists, software engineers, statisticians, specialised coaches, videographers, and public relations managers. The game, hence, both on and off the field, comprises multiple and often disjointed foci. In this de-centred sporting universe, however, several fragilities and instabilities have begun to set in: match fixing, betting, corruption, technological complexity, political control, and even the systematic blurring between sport and entertainment. Cricket in India has begun to increasingly play out, I argue, as the politics of speed.

Keywords: Cricket, Sport, Speed, Politics, Technology, Society, Spectator, Consumer, IPL, Indian Premier League

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 3, Issue 1, 2012, pp.69-79. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 643.692KB).

Vidya Subramanian

PhD Scholar, Centre for Studies in Science Policy, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Delhi, India

I am a PhD scholar at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India. Isubmitted my M.Phil dissertation titled “Cricket, Technology, and the Making of a Sporting Platform” in July 2011. The dissertation explored the manner in which the sport of cricket has been transformed from being a spectator sport to becoming a platform for everyone from advertisers to businessmen, film stars and celebrities (especially in the backdrop of the Indian Premier League and the new Twenty20 phenomenon in cricket), through technological mediation and the injection of speed into the game. I am interested in exploring the cultural and political aspects of speed and technology through the lens of sport.