For a long time many sports fans have been disgusted by the amounts of money the top players are paid to perform, and entertain. Others will argue that their time at the top is short so they deserve to make money while they can. A question always thrown at anyone commenting negatively is “You wouldn’t say ‘no’ to such a salary would you? So why should they?”
In the past, in many countries the motivation to practice hour after hour as a youngster was the chance to play at the highest level, to represent your country. In other parts of the world some were always motivated by the money, as it offered the chance to change the life of not only the individual, but also their family.
Some are lucky to reach such heights, others are destined never to reach that level no matter how hard they work, or their parents push.
The recent Indian Premier League cricket auction saw one man reach those heights, 23 year old Pawan Negi. He plays for Delhi at domestic level, but has not consistently featured in First-Class cricket. In Twenty20 cricket, however, Negi is more than a handful with his aggressive batting and accurate bowling. He was picked up in the IPL auction for approximately USD$1.35million.
Sport has always been about people paying to watch others fulfilling their dreams. Witnessing skills that many can only dream of, a creative expression of the human mind and body combining and interacting with their team mates to enthral.
The rewards today are mind-boggling but few begrudge these entertainers their rewards; although some sports may feel that their athletes deserve equal reward to others, and understandably too. The only time that such rewards are questioned is when these superstars behave inappropriately, and bring bad publicity to the sport and their team.
For the fantasy to become reality you still have to have talent, and work exceptionally hard to stay at the top. Something that many fail to realise.
One fact that is often overlooked is that luck plays a key part in who makes it to the pinnacle and receives the financial rewards to last a lifetime. There are plenty equally as skilful or talented but will never reach these heady levels as they did not perform on given day when a scout was there, or were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
In Indian it was interesting to read how sport is now seeing individuals transcend their race, clan, caste or class. Yet there still raged a debate over the relationship between talent and the wages on offer in competitions such as the IPL. There are genuine fears that it will eventually impact on the foundation of the game of cricket in the country.
Pawan Negi has been catapulted from almost obscurity, ahead of many players with more impressive and established first class careers. There were many stories that the young man in question found his value as irrational as many of the public. Yet he is to earn a wage that many will never earn in a lifetime. It is clearly not his fault. Yet many feel it will impact heavily on Indian Cricket.
The purchase of Negi in the IPL auction appears to not be based on any performance so far, not his cricketing record. So it appears a huge gamble to invest so much in an unknown quantity. The concern is that the IPL will now cause divisions between Indian players. Players who have, the runs on the board, – if you will excuse the impression – feeling miffed that they are not earning close to an equivalent fee.
It was reported in the Justice Lodha Commission that the ‘difference in the IPL salaries for those who have played for the country and those who have not is creating bad blood among the players themselves.’ The fear is that the BCCI, who control cricket in India, have to take creative measures to address this issue sooner rather than later. The fear being that the monster they have created could end up devouring itself.
Is Indian Cricket alone? Are other Leagues and competitions facing a similar problem? Or in other cases where clubs shell out vast sums of money do the players have the results to warrant their wages, and are they still able to deliver?
If India is feeling the pinch is this a sign that the sporting landscape is about to go through a seismic change in the next five to ten years?
Without a shadow of doubt those who repeatedly said that such salaries could never last will be quick to say ‘I told you so.’ So if you know anyone who said that, beware!