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Updated: May 16, 2013 04:59 IST

India’s premier sexist league

Sharda Ugra
Comment (83)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

For all its influential reach, the IPL has done little to combat the existing stereotypes about women and done everything to reinforce them

The Hindu

IPL 2013 is heading towards its high-intensity, high-octane, high-pitched finale. After the season’s numbers have been crunched, the League will dissipate into general back-slapping, errors and omissions excepted.

Except that 2013 has been a revelation in itself. While the IPL occupies “soap opera” prime time on TV for two months, its avowed intention to expand its audience by engaging with women is a myth truly busted.

The dwindling number of women in the IPL’s TV audience has been explained as the League’s novelty factor wearing thin. IPL-TV though has played its own part in this phenomenon, unflinching as it has been in its display of how it situates women in its ecosystem.

At a time when India is in a roil about its treatment of women, the IPL, a powerful pan-Indian pop culture platform, has demonstrated where it stands in the debate — somewhere between ‘can’t say’ and ‘don’t care.’ On Planet IPL this season, there are two broad categories of women on our screens.

The first are the Respectables — the teamowners, the players’ wives/girlfriends, family members. Then there’s the other lot — the PlayThings. They are served up to the community of commentators in the SonyMax studio and on the field as occasional eye-candy and the source of much adolescent giggling and sniggering. The Playthings include the on-field cheerleaders, studio-dancers and the ‘colour’ girls — the two female reporters — chosen very deliberately not for their cricket nous but their youthful appearance. The young women change every few hours, the male ‘colour’ presenter/reporters endure.

The SonyMax production team for the IPL, even when featuring a female disc jockey in the studio, is said to be a testosterone-soaked cluster. (This is perhaps a reflection of cricket TV in India. In a job interview for a sports channel, a girl was asked whether she was willing to have a “boob job” and to name the cricketer she wanted to sleep with.)

In IPL 2013, cricket is watched and communicated by the expert eyes of men who are served with an ‘entertainment’ device on the sidelines, in the form of the dancing cheerleaders.

Hardly surprising then that IPL 2013 chatter on TV has produced an endless daily dose of drivel. A few samples: Kapil Dev offered this when talking about doing commentary for T20: “Kothay ke taur tarique seekhne padenge [we will have to learn the ways of a brothel]”. Navjot Singh Sidhu said at one point that while the naachnewaali (dancers/ nautch girls) had money they had no izzat (honour/respect.) There may have been a cricketing metaphor in the ether but there were dancers on screen. Sidhu and Sunil Gavaskar were heard ribbing each other about being in the company of one of the 20-something colour reporters or, as Gavaskar said, “in the presence of one of the 25 most desirable women in India”. The ‘slo-mo’ shots of the cheerleaders almost reflexively lead the commentators to make allusions about the seaminess of what they were seeing. Commentary about cricket is often interrupted with a chuckling aside: “And I thought that’s where you were headed… and I thought, oh, this respectable XYZ...” (Cheerleaders? Not respectable at all.)

Whether the cricket is exciting or predictable, the drivel has been relentless. Egged on by the studio, IPL’s on-field shouter-in-chief Danny Morrison lifted a colour-reporter off her feet on one arm; Sidhu and Sameer Kochchar turned on their smarm when former England women’s team fast bowler Isa Guha was in the studio, asking her which IPL player she found the hottest and to name her favourite dancer amongst the cricketers; Ravi Shastri praised the colour of the reporters’ lipstick, with many jokes made about ‘heat’ and ‘current’ in the studio.

On a TV show, “advertising guru” Prahlad Kakkar argued vociferously that the IPL “is entertainment, not classical cricket” and “why can’t grown-up men have fun?” All cigar-chomping conviction, he asked: “Have you been to a men’s club?” An unintentional insight? IPL2013 on TV has certainly presented itself like a “gentlemen’s club.” As the business of cricket has gone on, its male messengers have offered sustained doses of titillation — double entendres, bump-n-grind routines from the studio dancers, salacious shots of the cheer leaders — all masked as “entertainment”.

What is particularly reprehensible is that the IPL does so without any consideration for the fact that it operates and feeds off a country currently introspecting about why it treats its women badly.

At a time when the law pertaining to crimes against women has been amended due to public pressure.

With Sidhu, a sitting Member of Parliament, spitting out 500-words-a-minute on IPL TV without a thought for what’s happening in his other job, it is as if the IPL is an institutional manifestation of the Sidhu persona. Trapped by its growing narcissism and driven by nothing but the promise of profit, the IPL chooses to remain uninterested in the reach and significance of its own influence.

In the advertising industry these days, there is a push to ensure that any big brand, corporate or individual taps into a wider cause or issue that affects consumers. This is why razor manufacturer Gillette came up with its “Soldier for Women” advertisement. Or actor-director Farhan Akhtar launched his MARD (Men Against Rape and Discrimination) campaign which has become Bollywood’s most visible public stand on women’s safety. Akhtar turned up for an IPL evening, but once he was gone, the event went back to its men’s club-type ‘entertainment’.

It is not as if India’s cricketers do not know what is happening outside their bubble. They know first-hand what life is like for the women in their families and for their women friends when they step out of home. Suresh Raina tweeted his anger about the 5-year-old raped and left to die. Yuvraj Singh dedicated a Man of the Match award to the December 16 gang-rape victim, praying for her recovery.

Yet, neither any franchise — four of whom have very visible female owners — nor the IPL itself has put together a message from the players to the millions of fans about women, against harassing and stalking, about standing up for women, treating them with dignity. (Because it don’t form part of a revenue stream, silly.) Instead, IPL 2013 has found its own new level for women — the lowest common denominator.

(The writer is a sports journalist and senior editor at ESPNcricinfo.)

More In: Comment | Opinion

It may take another sixty five years before our society even begins perceive and repent the trashy way women are treated at every level – ranging from the assault on “Abhaya” to the more subtle treatment meted out to “cheer leaders”. The writer makes well argued, valid points – but she should collect her pearls and go home.

from:  mukundagiri sadagopan
Posted on: May 18, 2013 at 02:07 IST

Organizers of the IPL made cricket a money making industry.Further, they brought all vulgarity to the games by bringing cheerleaders inside the field.Furthermore, they brought ladies commentators /anchors etc who do not know the ABC of cricket.Not all, but, few players started to make betting and make cricket a game of betting.All misdeeds of the organizers and players have made the honest cricket lovers fool. From where do the organizers and players( a few) get the licence to fool the cricket lovers ? Only BCCI will have to clean cricket in all respect and to bring back the lost beauty.

from:  MAHESWAR DEKA
Posted on: May 17, 2013 at 17:33 IST

nailed it well. There may be hypocrites crying ower their right to watch but do understand that skin show is never freedom, if it was even men would have also enjoyed it coming on to streets with bikinis. The main motive behind these colour reporters and cheer leaders is to drag tv watchers to their skinshow

from:  Raju
Posted on: May 17, 2013 at 14:52 IST

You make rather tenuous connections between the IPL and violence against women. The IPL doesn't commodify women alone - it does so with the cricket players too, who are all men. I agree that the IPL, TV and movies commodify women. But what do you say about so many women commodifying themselves by dressing the way they do in shopping malls, and public places in our metropolitan cities? Isn't that creating an overall climate of commodification of women? I would argue it does so even more than IPL and movies, because it is real life, and happens in front of your eyes. So are women ready to police themselves, and be careful here? I can already hear voices shouting about individual freedom, and freedom to dress as one pleases. Valid points. But if you want your freedom to dress as you please, you should also grant others the freedom to make programs the way they like,as long as they are legally in the clear. You can't have these double standards.

from:  Harsh
Posted on: May 17, 2013 at 13:15 IST

Congratulations for the brave reflections! This is the first time I have come across this opinion in the media - personally many women have felt disturbed (including me) watching the overtly active and sometimes passive support of sexism by some of the most admired cricketeers amd cricketing brains on yesteryear on TV, there has never been an open comment against it before! Well done The Hindu for leading the way - I deeply hope this gains momentum enough to make a real difference!

from:  Usha Subramaniam
Posted on: May 17, 2013 at 10:21 IST

Totally absurd ! On one hand we are talking about raising our sons better so that society becomes a better and on the other hand a woman writing article like this makes me feel sorry for our country. Cheerleading is a recognised sport and is featured in many countries (where men treat them with due respect then why cant Indian men be taught to do the same)
If to curtail all liberties and repress people is the only culture of India (as the author seems to imply) then its more or less anarchy. As far as few jokes from commentators are concerned , I guess the author failed to mention the jokes they crack on men in the studio as well.
I totally disagree author's point of view about objectification.

from:  Ankita
Posted on: May 17, 2013 at 08:54 IST

Great article Sharda! Thank you! Do you think that amount of money in IPL is sustainable with all transactions being legit? Do you think the corporates have enough money to invest and get returns with reasonably clean balance sheets? I am a skeptic here but I may be wrong. Is there any article where any sort of broad justification is made about the total amount of money going in and out of the league. I know this is not the topic of your article, but these are just questions I had, if you could answer them or maybe write an article if you are in know of some of these details. Thank you!

from:  RajaP
Posted on: May 17, 2013 at 04:30 IST

IPL is a rubbish franchise...its not for true cricket lovers. I like the
way you presented the facts about this franchise. To be honest ..a test
match is the real cricket where you can watch beautiful stroke play and
bowling ... Guys totally IPL is a waste of valuable time for audiences..

from:  AJ
Posted on: May 17, 2013 at 01:19 IST

The article conflates several issues. It's true that cheerleaders are being ogled at by millions of men, but that's because those girls choose to work in that profession.

Some choose to portray cheerleading as an unnecessary import from the West. But what they don't understand is that every cheerleader is fully aware of the job is and chooses to enter that profession of her own accord. That's the best part about Western society: each individual chooses to do whatever he/she wants to do in life but always under the RULE OF LAW.

I won't deny the fact cheerleading does have a sexual appeal but the rule of law has no place here. So where should the rule of law apply? To prevent men from raping women. Ever wonder why so few women get raped in the West where cheerleaders/strippers are commonplace? It's because of law enforcement. The police in India should actually get down to enforcing the law. The conviction rate of rapists in India is 26%. Maybe we should start by increasing this figure

from:  Raghu
Posted on: May 17, 2013 at 00:18 IST

1 who care for only his own interest can say 'Role of women in ipl as a
entertainment part' It is the same thing like our politician use to say
that' we care for women' in their speeches and rest of time we all knows
but they do with 'pity women'... shame on those for whom their sister
is sis and others is entertainment.....

from:  arun singh
Posted on: May 17, 2013 at 00:12 IST

IPL is a mega event with lots of colours, passion, raw talents, dance,cricket, hooplah and every thing which can capture interest of millions of people... Its branding has also been done like wise the channel broadcasting it says this is cricketainment... not even pure cricket.... So we have to stop creating unnecessary controversies and saying the whole tournament IPL is anti Women is preposterous to the point of being silly.... Women are a part of entertainment industry and these entertainment is going on for centuries..dancing is one such thing... at least todays cheer leaders are decently paid and have social security rather than getting harrased in a dance bar. The author has done same thing which he is accusing the people while saying that one appreciated pune warriors cheer leader's sarees... He should also appreciate the role and presence of girls and ladies in large numbers in the oganisational setup of IPL..flirting with women in a good way doesnt mean denigrating them...

from:  Mayank
Posted on: May 17, 2013 at 00:10 IST

This is not at all a big surprise or an exceptional report worth
reading...look what is happening in bollywood movies...can u help
correcting that industry? Men gets dressed up in full and how are women
dressed up? and then you report about some simple jokes in the studio
and treat them as biggest crime against women...it was an absolute waste
of time reading this report...to keep it simple, here is what i feel
after reading....as far as there are girls to cheer, there shall be
cheer girls around...

from:  Ajit
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 23:51 IST

I agree with you, to entertain why western why not indian type Ex:
Warriors cheer leaders, bring some innovative which enhance IPL
business and our culture. Its not a men club its a co- club. Owners
speaks but their implementation is none. It relates how they are?
(politician).

from:  pradeep
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 22:46 IST

finally, some meaningful article.. The cheerleadering has been made into such a cheap concept and having them in prime tv time is really awful. Cheapening and demeaning women.

from:  Lavanya
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 22:27 IST

Feminism clouds the objectivity of the author in many of the aspects
highlighted.

Indian Media has a challenge of sticking to stereotypes but that is true
for both Men and Women (which strangely is never highlighted)

from:  Munish
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 22:20 IST

Brilliant article!!
This shows how we Indians think of women. We treat them as nothing but
Eye candy. Moreover, the official IPL channel on YOU-TUBE has some
videos titled EYE CANDY which catches glimpses of semi-naked
cheerleaders, female spectators and middle-aged female team owners.
There is something wrong with men in this country.

from:  Prajesh
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 21:08 IST

Superb Article
It is the beautiful game of cricket being spoiled in the name of
entertainment.
Are players watching cheerleaders regularly to get them boosted??
Does the world renowned Football leagues have cheerleaders??
When the country is roiling about the treatment/outlook of women in
the society, Is this, the so-called-entertainment, making any sense?
All I could see is profits, chauvinism, & Nonsense in the name of
Cricket extravaganza & in the expense of moral values.
Survey showed that more than 85% of urban children are watching IPL &
please don't make them & our country's future spoiled.

Let's see Cricket, Not some Glamorous Dance shows !!

from:  Ganesh
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 19:41 IST

Brilliant article !!
I concur with you. Your observations are so apt about the IPL.
A person would miss noticing these aspects of the game when he/she is too engrossed in their day to day life that they simply have no time to realize the larger impact it is having on the society.

from:  Sakhib Khan
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 19:10 IST

There is a tendency among people to attack the most popular, be it for whatever reason. Same is this article in which there is an absurd connection made between IPL and the plight of women in India.
In the fledgling year of IPL there was a controvery over the cheerleaders dancing on every event happening in IPL hours of cricket. It was contended that it was ruining the cultural fabric of our society. But when the same IPL, after 2 years , had some of the team's cheerleaders dancing in traditional forms and dresses, no one took the honor of praising it for the spreading upholding Indian culture.
The absurdity drawn and the points made byhe writer are vague. There is nothing wrong when Mandira Bedi hosts the show for World Cup pre shows, but when it comes to IPL these women hosts are just a mere entertainer. There is a contention that IPL is not a classy form of cricket, but an entertainment, so be it, as far as spectator is concerned sports is an entertainment for us, the spectators..

from:  Sahil Bhatia
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 18:44 IST

Compare this to other league's around the world including the European or Latin
American or even African, India's IPL seems to be more sexist. A country which
worships women are now turning into sexist entertainment. This whole idea of
bringing cheerleaders into IPL is a flimsy idea that will fuel the minds of young into
gruesome things. Do you see cheerleaders dancing in European football leagues? do
you see cameras focusing intentionally on just random women sitting in audience for
5 to 10 seconds? This is how down the India's entertainment industry has came
down.

from:  jez
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 18:07 IST

Wonderful Article Sharda!!!

This is the true picture of IPL which has been hiding under the frames of marketing, lucrativeness and charismatic nature of the commentators and IPL owners. I am sure that most of the people who want strong laws against crime against women would certainly boycott this fake world and look forward to support the other causes such as bringing up strong resolution, making safe public space for women. Heartily thanks for bringing these facts to the public.

from:  Yuvraj
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 17:57 IST

Well, IPL is just offering what our movies have been doing for much longer, namely
masala. Whether its the gyrating hips or the heroine clad in a wet white saree,
Bollywood has never been much different.

To me, IPL isn't cricket at all. Note that utter absence of the word "cricket' in the
abbreviation. They are trying to tell us something, namely that the cricket on the
field is secondary or tertiary. They might as well be playing baseball or footy for all
you care.

If you want to watch cricket, try the Tests or even the one-dayers, or even try T20
internationals. But please, please give IPL a wide berth.

from:  Vivek
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 17:56 IST

IPL kind of cricket has always been a huge hoax on the public, especially cricket buffs who strangely seem willing to be taken for a ride. The writer has raised valid points which may not be valid to some sections and they may well have their reasons. What may be demeaning women for one may well be an expression of female freedom for another. When we speak about women dignity in India, which kind of women we are talking about? Those who dare to bare, sadly, are often the articulate ones. The silent majority which values dignity is quiet. Even while offering a sincere and genuine criticism of indecent female behaviour one runs the risk of being called a 'cultural police'! Just where are we headed as a society? We are a democracy and strangely we use that to justify anything. Shorn of all the song and dance, literally, what's IPL's offer at the competition level? Precious little. It's phoney at best. I would rather go watch a well fought club cricket match than lose sleep to watch IPL

from:  R.C. Rajamani
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 17:23 IST

Drug Addicts, Match fixers, Narcissists, Backstabbers...

among all these exotic breeds of individuals plying in the league the
seems to be no place for the MARD that Farhan Akhtar talks about
all thats left is a bunch of nimrod dimwits who run-administrate &
market the league
that breed is fit to be called the NAMARD,.

SHARDA UGRA congratulations on writing this tell all article.., <

from:  Kiran
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 17:04 IST

this piece is a bit over the top.. lets not blame things like ipl & bollywood & what not for rapes.. lots of men enjoy them & dont go about committing crimes of sexual nature..some women & men might use them as sex objects though like preity zinta with her oh i am so cute & bubbly antics while hopping on the field hugging all the players but that doesnt mean someone would go out there & rape women.. a rapist is just a mentally sick human & for him others should not be denied their daily dose of entertainment.

from:  garry
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 16:47 IST

I follow the IPL solely because of MS Dhoni, and I completely agree with all that you say Sharda! loved the punch - "IPL 2013 has found its own new level for women — the lowest common denominator." How true!

from:  Archana
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 16:36 IST

Thank you Sharda! It is not fashionable to oppose IPL. You have made
good points, which predictably, many commenters (men?) don't agree
with. IPL is a further symbol of the degeneration of so many values in
our society - hard to start naming them. It needs another entire
article by itself. Even if others don't agree with you, I am sure you
know that there ARE people out there who think the same. IPL is bad
for cricket and bad for what we want our society to be. But then..
monied people were never a part of the betterment of society exercise
:). Entertainment and money are too important for them. Thanks for the
article.

from:  lrao
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 16:31 IST

The author has very deliberately tried to create a sexist portrayal of
the IPL. The author has failed to create a connect with IPL's
"PlayThings" and the crime against women happening in India. We have
hundreds of television shows were there are more vulgar content
showcased just to increase TRP ratings. At the end of the day viewers
watch IPL for the cricket. I agree that bringing in cheerleaders and
young women reporters are gimmicks to get people glued to the TV but
there is limit to how much it can persuade the viewers.

from:  Deepak
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 16:13 IST

Good insightful article. I do not agree with the view of someone that
the author ought to have interviewed the cheer girls. After all the
cheer girls are doing a paid duty. Can we expect them to revolt or
express dissent about the whole show? They are literally dancing to
the tune of the IPL makers. The BCCI has converted Cricket into a
comedy. Hope it would legalise 'spot-fixing' and other controversies
since that too like IPL is a money making process. Srinivasan & Co
have, in their eagerness to make money and command the ICC and have
their say in everything in the name of Cricket do not bother about
losing respect, dignity and ultimately a game that was being called 'a
gentlemen game'. Now the results are evident. India has withheld its
Zimbabwe tour on grounds of 'fatigue'. This is like someone refusing
to join his family on grounds of 'fatigue' due to visit to a red-light
area! The doomsday for Cricket is not far away unless someone speaks
up of the evil.

from:  Balu
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 16:11 IST

IPL is a mixture of cricket and entertainment. It's entertainment part that's
bothering you but i would like to add there is nothing wrong with women
presenter who is eye candy but has little knowledge about cricket. You find it
everywhere. If you talk about Woman's respect, first you should ban those
Kamsutra ads of Katrina, that is called objectification not the IPL or for that matter
most of the ads involving women. Bollywood leads the way with sleazy dance
number and bare minimum cloths to guarantee a housefull theatre. the demeaning
of Women is most at work places. So IPL is just a small part of it, no cheerleader or
no women presenter will not solve the problem. Answer is with Education system
and family. A sound moral education and good upbringing will certainly help.

from:  chandan
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 15:24 IST

IPL and its associated factors are for pure entertainment. It has
nothing to do with objectification or stereotyping. The author is
achieving nothing by using words like salacious and seaminess. On the
one hand there are women such as Neetu Chandra who claim that one must
look at the aesthetics and not the nudity of the models. On the other
hand, the author and many others is labeling such acts of pure consent
from the females involved as acts that reinforce stereotypes about
women. While some say that sensuous display of nudity is empowering
women, others look at it as objectification for the male eyes. It is
hard to understand why the feminist movement itself is so divided. As
long as the cheerleaders or item dancers or porn stars are doing their
job with their full consent, the author need not bother whose eyes
they meant for. Besides, the women involved are paid heavily. They are
not doing it for free. Are they?

from:  Jonathan Small
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 15:19 IST

Brilliant article,
One should not underestimate the influence media's have on society, especially as far as gender equality is concerned. No laws, however stringent, will ever thwart the disastrous effects of mass media. In Europe for example, where women rights and gender equality have been for a long time legally affirmed, women and their bodies are still massively used for commercial purposes, spreading the idea that the value of a women depends on her attractiveness. Moreover, special magazines, TV programs and commercials marketed for girls tend to encourage them to narrow their scope of interests to superficial and vain concerns, deviously maintaining archaic and misogynous stereotypes. The adverse effects of these programs are not only impacting men, and their image of women, but more insidiously they affect girls themselves. Encouraged to believe that emancipation is confined to the right of wearing miniskirts and high heels, they walk past the real freedom. Of course the freedom to wear whatever one feels comfortable with, without being insulted is important, but it should not be the emblem of women emancipation.
Women are free when there are economically independent, considered for their talents and intelligence and not for their beauty. Angela Merkel, Christine Lagarde, Hilary Clinton or Arundathi Roy, do much more for women rights.
Media’s and Government have a responsibility and should not deny it for the consequences can be disastrous.

from:  Lorraine Q
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 15:08 IST

Extremely well thought and composed article by Sharda. I do not blame
BCCI for making cricket a commodity appeasing to public demand. Rather,
that's what the people seem to have wanted, despite all the doublespeak
on our concerns for women's safety and their status in the society. It
goes on to show we do not think together as a society, and the real
enemy is within us.

from:  Harsh
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 15:03 IST

Thank you, Sharda. For you have not bothered about people accusing you to be prudish.

Like how the film makers claim that the stuff in films is what the audience wants, the "creators" of IPL will claim that all these ingredients are indeed wanted by the viewers!

IPL is yet another manifestation of MEN deciding on what MEN want and need to watch! Women are the props - either go cheer or dance pointlessly! All cricketing brilliance is lost in this circus of chauvinism ... Time the 'gentlemen' players do a serious introspection! But again is that even possible when they run only after money?!

from:  Priya Rao
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 15:03 IST

A 1000+ worded article by a sports journalist without interacting or
interviewing the cheerleaders seems hollow and appears like the view of
a professor seated in an ivory tower.

from:  navayana
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 15:00 IST


While I agree with author in that all these displays add to the degradation of women and decent human relationship, blaming it on those few men or the IPL is pointless.

The whole show(and all such professional commercialized professional sporting events) are such waste of time, and I feel bad for the youth who are hooked up to this displays, wasting their time and mind. And the author contributes to that, being one of the fore-runners in covering the event. Of course she can argue that people are free to ignore it, which is what the rest of do, keeping away from the madness.

In the bigger picture, such pathologies are simply the by-products of a system which sells everything, including people, for profit. IMO the whole point of competitive sports such as this is objectifying the players and the 'teams', selling them to the audience and in turn selling the audience to the mostly hideous advertisers.

Nitpicking few if you're a part the bigger picture is hypocritical and bigoted.

from:  Manish
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 14:53 IST

This article is a load of drivel. Cheer-leading is a career choice
which women take up willingly. As are the other roles which this
author in her limited and subjective wisdom sees as sexist and
derogatory.
IPL itself is very little about cricket. The author being, as she
claims, a sports journalist should know that IPL was created as the
ultimate "entertainment package" aimed at the modern Indian cricket
fan who doesn't have the time to sit through a 50 overs match. And to
further add spice to the "package" to increase revenues the organizers
decided to add some side attractions, that's all.
Yes, IPL may end up destroying the sport itself but nothing indicates
that the IPL is sexist.

from:  Aritra Gupta
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 14:50 IST

At a time when the whole country has joined together to raise their voice against curbing crimes against women, cricket sure has to become a medium for all the male youth and even adults to realise that the game itself is very entertaining without the involvement of any female dancers.

from:  Shweta
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 14:48 IST

Whereas I agree with your principal argument of IPL being more about flamboyance and "entertainment" rather than cricket, I sadly cant agree with you on it being pitted against women / abetting denegration of women in any way.

Yes, cheerleaders dance on the field and off it!, Yes there are "attractive"(color) female reporters people like watching on TV, yes there are double-entendres but SO WHAT? Cheerleaders dance in "western" countries too, girls don't get raped there as often/brazenly as here!

The problem is the mindset of this whole nation, which somehow in the past few centuries has thought "pushing things under the carpet"/suppressing individual freedom under the garb of a "superior culture/ideology" is the way forward. I am shocked &fail to understand why liberal/progressive voices in this country, even eminent people such as yourself connect the noxious problem of repression of women in this country to "cheerleading"(OR westernisation) whereas it is quite on the contrary

from:  Saurav Nandi
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 14:41 IST

When a "connoiseur" says something, others better listen rather than
being disappointed. Sports journalist and senior editor at cricinfo
and we get "disappointed" with what she has to say, we do so at our
own peril.

It is like this " even if you had the eyes of a cat, would you want to
look into darkness?"
I mean why do things which are not productive for the society. But yes
again who am i as an individual to decide or comment on the society as
a whole or its wit or conscience.

from:  Abhishek Bhardwaj
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 14:33 IST

yes this is a testorene filled game and what it is supposed to be? It is what young men like. I don't whether just all men be gentlemen of those old english dramas and play Sir and madam all day and watch pride and prejudice while munching on potato chips. NO! Men are supposed to watch sports with Bawdy gestures and say Grrrrrr!! like pirates.
P.S: Not all men are pirates not all men are gentlemen and ride a horse and fly away on a unicorn. Some are just testerone filled sports crazy men.

from:  harsh V
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 14:27 IST

Well written piece and in fact, long overdue from a responsible journalist like Sharda Ugra. I love watching cricket but could never relate IPL to the game. The crass commercialistion, degradation of women, crony capitalism exposes and not to miss out the increasingly mandatory one off-field controversy per year in the IPL has just been disgusting!

from:  Balaji
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 14:08 IST

I think the author has taken the issue to another level altogether. In a country where
the language and ethnicity changes every 200km and the dialect every 50km, there's
nothing called as "Our Culture". What is demeaning and degrading to you can very
well be fun for others.

However, there are some valid points in the article related to the casual remarks by
commentators but it would be better if don't confuse "indecent remarks" with
"indecent clothing" or whatever. The former is linked to the mindset of an individual
and there is a broad universally acceptance on what constitutes indecent remarks.
With regard to Clothing, what is indecent to you might well be comfortable to many
so its better if we don't do moral policing and impose our culture on others.

from:  Siddharth Pandit
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 13:57 IST

I appreciate the authors views especially about his consideration to
the status of women in the society at this stage..but i personally
feel that like any coin has two sides every topic or debate has to be
seen both ways...we have seen both cheerleaders and team owners in a
contrasting manner..it would be of great impact if the team owners did
something to highlight the plight of women because IPL is definetly a
nations show and lot of youngsters are watching it..atleast somewhere
if someone is moved then we can consider a change will start sooner or
later....

from:  sudarshan
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 13:46 IST

I very much agree with the author's points.It is not about having
dance in the sport, its about how TV presents it.One definitely cannot
compare it with Bharatnatyam or Kathak as these dance arts are not
just about clothes or show-business.Definitely its a woman's choice to
be or not to be a cheerleader, but if you put it in Indian scenario,
people think them as mere objects, whether you agree or not.Sexist
image is not restricted to cheerleading, take an example of actresses.
Though their prime occupation is acting which is no child's play,
today people remember actresses more for their clothes, style-
quotient, sex-appeal than acting skills.

from:  Vidhi
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 13:32 IST

Amen!

But then reading through the comments here the gloom sets in again. <

from:  Katheeja
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 13:32 IST

Well written. People often neglect the impact of media on society..how it affects the culture and thought. We couldn't find any youth protesting against cheerleaders presence in the cricket. But many a youth protested against the gang rape in Delhi. Do these youngsters know that rape is an after effect of keeping the women in a 'lowest common denominator' level?

Youngsters in India, both men and women, shall protest against this social crime happening publicly in IPL.

from:  Muneer Ahmed
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 13:17 IST

IPL racket is only to fool people with all the show behind which crores of rupees are
exchanged in match fixing and fake betting by gullible public. Sexy or otherwise is a clear
facade to a corporatized fraud on people and government has no guts to ban this open loot
of public money.

from:  MvjRao
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 13:11 IST

So true, but look at other way the women are not compiled to do that job, they came in to this job with their own interest and of-course they add some glamor to sports ..
But the thing is this entertainment is more now a days than the cricket..we need to blame them for that

from:  sravan
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 12:53 IST

The question is of multiplicity. Man is inventing myriad ways to eke
out a bit more pleasure out of life. However, sadly, all these end up
in bitter pain and disillusionment in the long run. The IPL is just
another example of prioritizing instant gratification over long term
benefits. If we won't learn to recognize true priorities when there is
time, the university of hard knocks will knock it into our heads, but
definitely.


from:  Sudheer
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 12:47 IST

No one forced these women to make money by being eye-candy. It was their personal choice to do so. For this, the author blames men who enjoy the view? Sounds like hypocrisy to me.

from:  venkatesh
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 12:32 IST

Very well argued! IPL bashing is truly required,in so much blindness
around it!

from:  Jyotsna Siddharth
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 12:03 IST

I feel this article is going overboard. A few laughs and jokes for humor
sake is being misinterpreted.

from:  Mani Desik
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 11:49 IST

Much needed article.

Sidhu, a sitting Member of Parliament - most of the cricket watchers doesn't even know this. I wonder if he knows whats happening in his constituency.

IPL is a money spinner - billions of dollars.
IPL is a waste of time - 2 months of young India's time.
IPL is a business.!

from:  Raja
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 11:42 IST

Sometime back a "real" sports journo took exception on being supposedly
bunched together with Mandira Bedi for seemingly "valid" reasons.It's
high time everyone who's disgusted with the IPL took a stand and stopped
watching and doing anything associated with it.Else the public that
watches and curses the IPL and the journalists who are so much
scandalized by the spectacle and yet keep on covering it will be called
hypocrites.

from:  Kunal
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 11:36 IST

While I personally do not feel the need for cheerleaders to be
performing at a cricket match, I find myself in disagreement with the
author on her views about IPL being a sexist league.

Cheerleading, dancing and reporting are career choices that are
consciously made by today's women. They are well aware of the
perceptions attached to these careers. Nobody is forced to take these
routes. Infact, I must say that the two reporters with "youthful
appearance" conduct themselves in a much better manner than some of
the commentators on the channel. I am positive that this would serve
as a great platform for them to launch their careers.

Please understand that it is not sexist to compliment someone on the
way he/she looks. What was so wrong about what Gavaskar or Shastri
commented?

from:  Aman
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 11:33 IST

People who think that it's fine because they are not forced and
they are getting decent pay and even Americans have this
cheerleader culture, are suggesting what? Your aloofness will
degrade the morality of society and finally set the benchmark for
next generation. The girls who are employed in these mega
entertainment shows might be tolerating sexist remarks but this
will set standard for next generation who would think that its okay
to use sexist word and gestures in public....

from:  Lamda Sky
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 11:17 IST

Probably all thing narrated are right but what others on television are
doing. even if I am watching a family soap I see stupid adds, which
unnecessarily displays woma/en and that too in objectionable wearing.
One more thing I have never noticed all the stuff in extra shows
probably because I have been avoiding then since they are no
entertainment but probably it is going to be difficult for me from now
on.

from:  sushil surana
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 11:17 IST


That's not the fault of the IPL committee instead it's the job of the
women to pick what professions really fits on them
It's not something that they are compelled to do but one thing is for
sure IPL is platform which has brought an enormous amount
money,glamour and fame and everybody is in pursuit of that
irrespective of there gender.
In case if somebody completely banned the involvement of women in IPL,
there might be 10 more columns which would be championing for there
involvement.

from:  John
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 11:04 IST

Very Good one!!

from:  William
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 10:58 IST

So true. That's why I hate the IPL. It's a sad reminder of the rampant
sexism in India and fact that entertainment is usually made by men and
for men.

from:  Liz
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 10:57 IST

Well written , ipl is not a sport at all, at most it can be renamed " cricket cabrre"
In the name of sport , a hand full of powerful people .are busy making unethical
Money , which includes some industrialist who have cheated our financial institutions
to tune of millions of rupees,but continues to own these bunch of gladiators, oh sorry
cricketers. A real sorry state of affairs for great sport like cricket , this may go on , but pure
gentlemen game will die , thanks to bcci

from:  Dr vijendra
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 10:52 IST

This I already sensed well when I got to see some glimpse of IPL (as I
don't like it anyway). It's no less than Adult content IPL is bringing
to platter. The pity is now no moral police comes forward to show their
discontent with it, because they know they can torment poor general
public.

from:  Shubham
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 10:40 IST

Do you think the Playthings are doing their job because they like or you thing they are forced to do so. If they are doing what they like why should the job project as Glamorous? I have seen in some good schools in US Cheer leading is a sporting event and several girls participate and compete in these sports. That said, we have several educated women who don't really care about the suffering women until and unless its their job. In Andhra Pradesh there is a saying which says "Women is the enemy for Women"..

from:  Pavankumar
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 10:38 IST

The race to the bottom gets accelerated with every IPL. Any form of
art or entertainment needs to maintain the fine balance between
substance and masala. IPL has become to much of a masala dish for
any genuine cricket lover or if it is not too far fetched,for a
lover of decency to put up with. I hope this timely article gives
us the much needed introspection because all those ex-cricketers
and commentators whom we adore don't seem to realize the anger of
the silent majority.

from:  Shreyas
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 10:37 IST

I am not sure why do we try to seek morals in everything. Aren't women
cheer leaders a common thing in sporting through out the world? isn't
that the most coveted team to be in for a young girl in college
(abroad). i am sure there is a sweeper also in the stadium , who is
cleaning the toilets after thousands have used it. i think what we make of the portrayal of women is what is
in our mind. For lot of women being cheerleader would be a great thing, for lots derogatory. its debatable !

from:  siddharth
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 10:12 IST

Chosen for their 'youthful' appearance ? Sure.

from:  John
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 10:11 IST

Completely agree with you. This non-sense should be stopped and we need
to spread the awareness among general public so that they are forced to
stop all this. IF IPL is about Cricket then lets just enjoy Sports
rather than doing all this. We should also raise this issue with
Broadcasting authority to bring this thing to an end.
But at the end its money game and they who has money will win this
battle as well.

from:  Vaibhav
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 09:56 IST

Though I agree with almost everything that is being said here, I must
also point out that most of the 'women' involved seem to be fine with
what is happening.

from:  Prashant
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 09:55 IST

The question more pressingly that women need to ask is what about men that suffer due to gender biased laws that this country is dishing out like lolly pops. Have women looked into the horror stories of the number of false 498a and Domestic Violence cases that are lodged against men (and their families) since its inception in 1983/2005 or the very high number of working men's suicide rates compared to women.

from:  Lakshmi Narasimhan Madhavan
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 09:34 IST

What can you expect when Neeraj Vyas, the business head of SET Max said
"The girls (anchors) are not chosen for their knowledge of cricket. The
girls have to change every year to get in younger and fresher faces"

from:  Shrinivas
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 08:44 IST

What Prahlad kakkar said is absolutely true. IPL is a form of entertainment that has some cricket embedded in it. So if we have to criticise it for treating women badly, then we have take a shot at the whole of the entertainment industry, including bollywood!
IPL is a mere money making, entertainment industry as you mentioned. So there is no point in blaming it, as it is doing only what is expected from it.

from:  Vinodh V B
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 08:43 IST

the basic premise that women are forced into what they do is flawed. before bringing in imagined sexual scenario one has to think about things like are they forced to be a cheerleader? reporter? are they not paid for it? isn't it a decent way to make a living?
comparing rape which is forced, violent and reprehensible to some
thing that is a voluntary show biz is unacceptable. do actress in bolly
wood forced to do item songs? arent they getting crores for it? don't
they use it to buy IPL teams and make more money? indeed its their life
choice !!! all women cannot be astrophysists ..its
the choice we make we should not feel belittled by and articles like
these does exactly the same. its takes a self righteous turn and
belittles other professions

from:  mano
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 08:25 IST

Good Article. Much needed. Revealing the complete picture of IPL.
IPL having such influence could have done lots for the women and society
at large.

from:  Mohammed Hammad
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 08:20 IST

I think you are going overboard, Madam.
What's wrong if the cheerleaders dance around for the entertainment of the public. It is no serious insult or crime. It is miles away from "harassing" women.
Do you complain about young guys strutting around or posing topless showing their muscles?.........on posters, ads., etc.
You are a sore loser.

from:  Shalini
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 07:48 IST

For long I have said that the Indian media is devoting undue time and space to Cricket (a game played in only three countries in Asia and one which is not a part of Olympics/Asian/Commonwealth Games). Consider the minute by minute coverage of IPL (a mere private club activity organised by some businessmen) suggests that Indian media considers it a constitutional obligation to promote cricket. Two pages are filled with cricket news (much of which is speculative and irrelevant), two pages are filled with news on foreign club football, foreign golf, foreign motor racing, etc and less than 5% is devoted to Indian sportsmen and other sports events staged in India. The Zero coverage of World Table Tennis currently underway in Paris is a glaring example of motivated non coverage of certain types of sports. The IPL is simply not worth wasting time or space. In fact Cricket itself does not deserve any publicity.

from:  Ramesh
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 07:16 IST

The cheer girls, loud noisy so called music, noisy commentators who
shout, bring in exxagerated metaphors all the time. All the
distractions for one wanting to watch cricket. We must learn from
Australia and England in this respect

from:  Manmohan
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 07:04 IST

I am glad that this article has come up. I find IPL nothing but a
tailor made commodity gratifying instantaneous pleasures far from what
I see in test matches. Reducing impact of a bowler to a subordinate
level to the batsman by limiting his quota of attack to only four
overs. Flat pitches, short boundaries, limitations on short stuff.
Reducing batsmanship to a mere power hitting as against the qualities
of building an innings, technique to stand the test of differnt kinds
of bowling for longer times apart from the partnerships, grit, the
ability to focus, the perserverence. Tell me When did Mumbai Indians
win when sachin scored a century?? IPL also reduces the impact of
whole team and glorifies individual performances. Domination of single
player for an over just like pollard the other day can alter the
course of the game. The bollywood stars who know nothing about cricket
advising the players going into their dressing rooms.

from:  Manmohan
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 06:55 IST

I am sure that there is nothing wrong in the cheerleader concept getting
introduced in India, the need is to improve the mindset. Not only common
people, the high cadre individuals like Sidhu(Who is an MP and will
surely be raising women issues in all his electoral speeches in public)
can be seen making absurd remarks regarding the cheerleaders. and
everyone knows what happens in the IPL parties. I wonder why no raids
are being done in those parties.

from:  sanjay Goyal
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 06:23 IST

I couldn't agree more with the author. It was a very sad sight for me
to watch the TV screen during one IPL match to see these skimpily clad
women gyrating on an elevated platform, while men cheered on with lusty
looks right behind.

from:  Uday K
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 06:19 IST

First, in the US, different categories of TV programs pay different
rates of taxes. This is why the pseudo-boxing program is promoted as
sports rather than entertainment. Do we have any such differentiators?
If we do, bring IPL into the "entertainment" tax regime.

Second, "Cheerleading" is not in itself bad. It is more than quasi-
athletic and has participants across the sex divide (CSK had male
cheerleaders in the first edition). One would recognize this if they
watched US college sports (NCAA). Bring that aspect into IPL
cheerleading. The drooling will be moderated.

from:  Raghuram Ekambaram
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 06:13 IST

There should be a curb on the expletives being used by our popular-yet-
never-responsible cricketers. Its very easy to assume the words by the
spectators including children, accepting it as a way of playing the
game. We just can't allow this to happen in the name of aggressive game-
ship. Any body from the BCCI taking note of this malady?

from:  Karumuri Sunil
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 05:38 IST

Truly stated! When expert male cricketers can do the analysis, the same
can be done by our Indian female cricketers too. Its' time they enter
the scenario. Well written and expecting Mithali Raj to do the honours
soon.

from:  Karumuri Sunil
Posted on: May 16, 2013 at 05:06 IST
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