A sociological analysis of development of cricket in India, from Simon Wilde of Times U.K. throws up a few interesting points, and some questions. By now, we all know that a lot of young breed of cricketers are emerging from the smaller centers like Lucknow, Ranchi, Rae-Bareily, Aligarh, Calicut and even remote villages. The main reason for this phenomenon is, and this is where most agree, the greater coverage of cricket on t.v. (and national terrestrial network, not just satellite) resulting in attracting more youngsters in all corners of the country.
But this piece throws up another angle into the theory, that of somewhat decline of interest in its traditional base in the big centers - the urban middle class. With the economy booming, and the middle class getting more affluent, the youngsters in big cities are turning to others sports, the top schools are shifting their focus too.
This got me thinking...are we wtinessing the game at its peak of popularity today? And, more significantly, are we starting to see just that very early glimpses of that downward curve? For, isn't it natural that if the focus of the urban base - the one that brings the maximum money to the broadcasters and their sponsors, the ones that pay for all those coaching classes in those private cricket clinics etc - shifts to others sports, the natural progression would be that those sports start gaining precedence on our t.v. as well...and hence start the same cricket-like growth phenomenon for another sport?
Ofcourse, I understand these are very early days...and right now, in the short term, this would sound absolutely ridiculous especially with the BCCI revenues showing exponential growth, with no signs of coming down. But, as I already said, I talk of very early signs here...something which would develop over the next 15-20 years. As for the BCCI revenues, one can argue that those are rising at that inceredible rate because the market wasn't well exploited earlier, and therefore they may not really be in sync with the actual popularity curve for the game.
Maybe this was inevitable, since its impossible to sustain that kind of growth in any market segment, and maybe it would come down to a more *sustainable* level, both in terms of business and popularity (one can consider them as inter-linked).
Or maybe I need to get my head examined...