TREND Millions watch and follow the IPL matches. With the sixth edition underway, is it true that more women and girls have started watching cricket after IPL?
If one thing that’s been up everywhere of late in tweets and timelines, likes and links, then it is the much popular IPL 2013. The Indian Premier League has been a rage ever since it was started and has become more so over these six successful years. TV shows, websites, newspapers and magazines talk about the craze it has created among cricket fans. There is also a speculation that IPL is now grabbing women’s attention more.
Pranav Kumar, a cricket fan, says, “IPL or T20 is a format where cricket is played in a casual way without any hard-and-fast rules. It’s more of entertainment and fun than cricket and that’s why probably women enjoy it.” Women are not only keenly following the matches on TV but are also turning out in huge numbers at the stadium. With as much enthusiasm as the male followers of cricket, the women too whistle, dance, sing and cheer their team leaders.
“IPL targets the youth. Ardent cricket fans and purists would rather watch test series where the game is played more seriously. IPL is simple to understand and you don’t need knowledge of cricket to enjoy these matches,” says Harikrishnan, a cricket lover. “Moreover, IPL has given a regional-connect to the audience. While men watch the matches for their favourite players, women are more for their regional teams.” He explains, “As I am a Sachin fan, I support Mumbai Indians though I belong to Chennai. And most boys prefer the teams in which their favourite players play. But in the case of girls, they would simply support their city team. The connection differs.”
Gowri Shankar, a die-hard CSK fan, says, “IPL has indeed attracted more women watchers. Apart from the game, it’s the glamour quotient that brings in women. I like being there simply for the experience, ambience and the fun of wearing fashionable clothes, hanging out with my friends and the luck of spotting celebrities, actors and cricketers.”
Girls are no longer the ideal home-bred types. They too want to be like boys and cricket is no exception.
For some girls, IPL enables them to remain updated. Sugantha, a high-school student, says, “IPL matches make hot topics for discussion. I feel left out if I can not participate in these discussions with my peers.”
It is not that girls lack knowledge in cricket. “We may not know every player as boys do but we keep a tab on the scores and wickets. At school, we also talk about what models and actors wore for the match. I am a Shahrukh Khan fan and so never miss matches of Kolkata Night Riders,” adds Sugantha.
But people who are into serious cricket feel the IPL has glamorised the game too much. Zenia D’Cunha, a female sports-reporter based in Mumbai writes in her blog ‘Sportilligent’ on Blogspot, that hiring female models as cricket presenters has made it very superficial. She feels good-looking and knowledgeable women should be taken as presenters and not just glam-dolls.
If you think the IPL craze is restricted to big metros only, you are mistaken. Youths from semi-urban areas and small towns are in no way lagging as the IPL fever grips them too.
Shankar Manoharan, a fan who travelled from Madurai to the Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai to watch the CSK Vs KKR match, has this to say , “It was an amazing experience to be part of a maddening crowd. Everyone was thoroughly enjoying. Every time CSK scored a six or secured a wicket, peppy Tamil songs were played and for KKR’s performances, Bengali songs or bollywood numbers from SRK films were played. People were wearing masks and had painted their faces. It was more like a carnival than a cricket match.”
Jyothi, a middle-aged woman who went to watch the match, says, “We went with our family and friends. Though IPL appeals to the young crowd, we too had a gala time. If asked, I wouldn’t know even the players’ names properly, but it was refreshing to take part in such an energetic environment.”