ESPN is doing something really nice with PHL. The quality of the game is ok. Players still dribble a lot. Trapping is bad and passing patchy. But the speed and the uncertainty of the game of hockey is very much there. Businesses and touts do smell an opportunity here. So much so that the domain name www.phlhockey.com has been registered by some "Pylon hockey league." But ESPN got smart and registered it in a different name. The “Pile-on” was largely unsuccessful!
The coverage has stark similarities with the way NBA is covered. Players are profiled. Small interviews are shot and shown. Field incidents are covered in great detail. Doctors treating injured players give their opinion. Time-out conversations are shown. And the best part is that most of it is in Hindi! So you cannot help but feel the excitement when the Maratha Warriors coach tells Viren Rasquinha to "Ball lekar uske left side se nikal ja, wahan par reflex kharaab hai". You have to rejoice when Mukesh Kumar puts his fingers between his lips and whistles away to glory as Shakeel Abbasi manages to find the net.
However, the sad part is that the numbers in the stadium are miniscule. But it feels great to see the ball rolling under the flood lights. If only KPS Gill does something similar on the administration side of things! But that would be to expect too much from someone who is shamefully power hungry. We probably have the best team in years but all that talent seems to be destined to ignominy. Any hockey follower would have been weaned away from the game because of what Mr. Gill has been doing to Indian Hockey. If only Mani Shankar Aiyar (Minister of Sports and Youth Affaris) does something, i.e. get someone capable and passionate at the helm of affairs, we might get a chance to see what the present team is capable of!