The BCCI is keen on making women’s IPL a reality, despite the cold response from spectators to the exhibition matches. As per a report in The Indian Express, the Board of Control for Cricket in India is mulling over organising a mini-IPL for next year with 3-4 teams expected to be involved. However, the women’s matches will be held in smaller venues with the hope of attracting bigger crowds. We must appreciate the board’s sincere efforts to make women’s IPL tournament happen, the lack of public interest is disheartening.
While IPL matches in men’s format continue to draw massive crowds to the stadiums, the stands were more empty than full at the women’s event.
Is our love for the sport of cricket gendered? Why is it that the fans who throng stadiums, or have their eyes glued to television screens, cannot find in themselves the same passion to come forward and root for female players? Why is it that despite having equally talented players, same captivating format and glamour, women’s IPL exhibition match failed to draw a crowd?
One aspect can be lack of proper publicity. While we know every little detail from the weather forecast, pitch report, to after match parties in IPL, none of us heard much about these exhibition match.
We also cannot overlook the sexist approach viewers have towards the sport. For many cricket lovers, female cricketers are just not worthy of their time. They are not even willing to give them a chance to showcase their skills because they are women, and women cannot play cricket as well as men.
This sexist mindset is not only hurting our women’s national team’s paychecks, but now it will also take away a golden chance from the entire female cricket fraternity to experience the format of the IPL.
If people continue to give women’s cricket a cold shoulder, these empty stands will translate into lower revenues and pronounce it as financially unviable.
IPL is all about public’s love for their cricketers and teams. But seems like our love for the sport is still bound by our patriarchal mentality. There are only two kinds of players in a sport. Those who are good and those who are bad. But our biased mentality differentiates among them on the basis of gender.
For once I urge people to get over their conservative mindset and look at the quality of sport being played, and not the gender of those who are on the field. When you learn to look beyond their gender, they are as good cricketers as the male ones. All they are asking for is a chance to prove their skills in this format.
Photo Credit : Indian Express
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.