Saturday, February 23, 2008

Cricketers, the slaves of 21st century, bought and sold in a public auction

The language was all wrong. Nearly two centuries after the abolition of slavery, it has come back with a vengeance in the globalised market place of early 21st century India. Cricketers were bought and sold for the eight teams of the Indian Premier League's Twenty20 cricket.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) had never had any sense of shame for raking in money in any which way. So, the idea of auctioning cricket players did not bother them. Then there were the owners of the eight teams, which included business, industry and media tycoons and the all-time favourite film stars. All of them got into the apparently harmless and entertaining act of buying up cricketers at the highest prices.

The media -- the television channels and the newspapers -- were both blissfully ignorant anf cynical when they announced the exciting spectacle of the grand sale of cricketers. It occourred to no one that selling and buying people is insulting to human dignity, and that it hurts the image of the game as well. What excited everyone is the price tag of each star cricketer. No one wanted the morality dampener.

The fallacious argument that it is a good thing because the cricketers are getting more money is simply stupid. There are ways and ways for cricketers to get the big money. It is through the contract route. In soccer, each club tries to woo the star footballer with a bigger salary. The same could have been done with the circketers as well.

The BCCI would, of course, argue that to keep the eight IPL teams evenly balanced -- that is the star content of each team should be as attractive as the other -- auction was the only way. The other option was to go for lots, but that would have been a blind game. The BCCI could have found a more intelligent and morally acceptable way to sort out this problem. It was to limit the number of star cricketers in each team to about five. Then no team would have been able to get all the big players at the highest prices.

It is morally ugly that a player cannot choose the team he wants to play for. He is a mere puppet and mus go with the team that pays the price.

The most outrageous thing about this is that no one seems to mind this modern slave trade in the name of marketing gimmick to create public awareness about the event, and to brand the event. It is the most questionable way of doing things. This will not stop with cricketers. Some smart alecky marketing idiot will want to do the same thing for fashion models and actors and actresses as well. And the big companies who recruit youngsters from the institutes of management will want to do the same thing to create the buzz.

It is the fundamental right of human beings and societies to degrade themselves as much as they want to. No one should put restrictions on this as everyone is in it on one's own volition. But it is necessary to note that modern Indian society is going back to the barbaric mode of slave trade through the auction route.

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