The first time it happened, the idea that some Indian cricketers could be involved in fixing matches was a truly devastating one. Having grown up like millions following the game to the point of obsession, and having believed so unquestioningly in the commitment of Indian cricketers, the thought that some of our losses which caused so much pain were manufactured as were some of the sweet victories, made it seem that the world had retrospectively lost meaning. Cricket may only be a game, but the emotional highs and lows that it generated surpassed anything else in life, and to have a mockery made of one’s most impassioned feelings was a shattering experience.
Strangely, cricket fans, by and large, took the revelations in their stride and most of the tainted cricketers have been rehabilitated in other fields quite seamlessly, including commentating and politics. The recent revelations about match-fixing at the highest levels in tennis and the ATP’s actions in keeping things quiet are part of a larger attitude of turning a blind eye to this phenomenon as far as possible. The illusion is maintained, for what is sport but illusion? Manufactured rules, arbitrary conventions, invented pursuits, arcane skills tied together to contrive wholly artificial but deeply involving meaning?
Given this is so, why is match-fixing illegal and why should players found to be involved face the prospect of spending time in prison? That the offending athletes should be punished in an exemplary fashion cannot be argued, for they are guilty of violating a trust so pure that even the most thuggish hooligan invests tears of belief in the game. Why does the accountability go outside the bounds of sport, across the mechanisms of societal reproof, beyond the legally mediated world of contractual dispute into the realm of the criminal justice system ? It is a violation of a contract both explicit and implicit, but so is cheating in a marriage, and that is not illegal. It cheats paying spectators, by making them believe that they are watching a real contest when they are not, but for many spectators, the same is true for wrestling bouts, where everything is, scripted. Nobody asks for wrestlers to be prosecuted for pretending to beat the stuffing out of each other. And what of ‘fixed’ reality shows or performances in talent competitions? Would ‘throwing’ a contest also invite criminal investigations?
What precisely is illegal about match-fixing? Is it the act of deliberately tailoring one’s performance in order to fashion a specific result, which is contrary to what one has been contracted for? If that is the case, then this should be a crime regardless of what level the sport is being played at. Just as stealing is stealing, no matter what the amount, a fixed match in a neighbourhood park should also attract the same kind of legal action.
Also, while a fraud of some kind is perpetrated, the intention here is not to defraud spectators, that is merely a by-product of the desire to make more money for themselves. The actual infraction is a violation of a contract- it is only in really popular sports that these have a material financial and emotional consequence. In that sense, it is not the action that is the problem, it is the context around it that makes it so.
If the spectators are the aggrieved party, does the amount that spectators spend on a ticket entitle them to seek such disproportionate damages from the sportsperson? In any case, the vast bulk of spectators, spend nothing as they watch from the comfort of their couches. The ones that suffer the most financially are those that bet on outcomes, but surely the athletes are not accountable to those who choose to bet on their efforts, nor is there is a compelling reason for the law to protect the rights of this lot.
It is worth asking if a similar action in a different context would also get pegged as a crime? If in a competitive business pitch, an employee were found to be deliberately underperforming in order to help a rival, without sharing any secrets, she would certainly be fired, but would she be liable for criminal prosecution? In a larger sense, is one the owner of one’s own performance, or is that the legally enforceable property of those that contract it? If one can be paid to win, why can’t one be paid not to win?
To pull back a little, isn’t is more than just a little ridiculous that we have begun to take sport so seriously that people can go to jail because of it? Does it not seem a little odd that in a completely made-up tournament like IPL or worse, ICL, players can be imprisoned for deliberately overstepping on a line at a pre-determined juncture while tossing a red leather ball to someone waiting to swat it with a wooden bat?
Societally, we have chosen to pay these people unreasonable sums of money for carrying out a certain set of actions. The excessive enthusiasm shown by the consumers of sport, over which the players have no control, has created a sense of entitlement about those that perform at their behest. The players become (well-paid) slaves to the popularity of the sport, and we as spectator-owners seek to extract our pound of flesh when they do not follow the rules we have made up. Sport which was conceived of as a theatre where human abilities would find their purest expression, has gradually been dragged back into the real world, by making it the conduit to everything it was designed to be detached from. It is this external worldly pressure that creates the motive for cheating as well for treating the infraction as a crime. Cheating at sports is a terrible crime against a very fragile humanity that sports was designed to uphold, but it is not a crime per se – not in the legal sense of the word.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.
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Free sample essay on A Cricket Match. Cricket is one of the most popular games in the world. It is equally popular in the West as it is in India. Cricket players are worshipped like hero. We can see children playing cricket in villages and towns.
Cricket is one of the most popular games in the world. It is equally popular in the West as it is in India. Cricket players are worshipped like hero. We can see children playing cricket in villages and towns. Cricket is a highly lucrative game. It brings name, fame, wealth and money. Cricket players are showered with prizes and awards. Today, cricket offers a good career opportunity. Children have great fascination for cricket. It has become the number one game all over the world and has a bright future. A cricket match, especially, one-day match is a great show anywhere in the world. In India, many people take leave to enjoy the game of cricket particularly if it is being played between India and Pakistan. Thousands of persons feel overjoyed to see a cricket match either in stadium or on television screen. Big corporate giants sponsor a cricket match and give great prizes to the good performances.
Today, cricket has become a passion. Every young boy wants to become a Tendulkar. Tendulkar is the hero of the young generation. In fact, Tendulkar has become a brand name. The young generation devotes their lots of time and energy in trying to shape their career as a cricketer. Whenever a cricket match is held particularly India-Pakistan match, the whole atmosphere is changed. The whole nation wears a festive look. People can be seen discussing matches. There is firework with every shot and every catch. On such days people have nothing to discuss but cricket. When the Indian team wins, there is a great show of fireworks. It is enjoyed by bursting of crackers. People are overjoyed at the win of the Indian team. Governments offer handful gifts to the good performances.
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Unfortunately, in recent years cricket has been defamed by “match-fixing”. It denigrated the prestige of many players and more importantly caused a decline in the popularity of cricket. People lost attraction for the game. But it is such a favourite game of the people that within no time it regained its lost popularity. Everything was back on the track.
Last winter, I along with one of my friends, went to see the final match of 20-20 between India and Pakistan at Eden Garden in Kolkata.
The stadium was packed to its capacity with cricket fans. The match started with the toss winning by Indian Cricket Team. Indian Team decided to bat first.
India got a good start with Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag giving it a strong position. But the team lost three wickets within only three over’s, which put Indian team into a difficult position. It once appeared that the match is going to end soon. But Irfan Pathan and Sreesanth did well to bring the team back to a good position. India ended the innings at 176.
The Pakistani team failed to give a good start. It lost its three wickets within ten over’s. But Shoaib Malik made a good score. Then the middle order batsmen performed well which helped Pakistan to gain a challenging position. But due to tactful fielding and bowling of the Indian team, the Pakistani team could not save the match and their innings ended at 162 with all the batsmen out and eight balls to spare.
Thus India won the trophy and Irfan Pathan was deservingly declared the ‘Man of the Match’.
There were celebrations all around. It appeared that it was the occasion of some festivals. I went back home with the hilling memories of the memorable match.