Thursday, February 01, 2007

Good work ESPN

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 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!


mufasa said...

This is precisely what is not required at the moment - somebody cheering the IHF and ESPN for the shitty PHL. The onl reason why ESPN is giving so much to PHL is because cricket rights have gone away from them and they need something to consolidate their market position in India - which is looking down the barrel. In a few months or years, ESPN India would go where ESPN Europe went - below the corporate poverty line.

As far as the PHL is concerned, there are many things that have been just copied from the NBA and this doesn't work. You sometimes see a coach trying to say something to the players just because there is a camera - and the result is embarassing. Many times I have seen coaches saying, instead of explaining the technicalities, "WOh uska kuch karo." Then, another time-out featured a coach giving fundaes in hindi resulting in the firang player to shy away from the team meeting.
There is no such funda as a home team and an away team - the reason why even fanatics like me won't be obsessed with the phl. You would say we do not have enough astroturfs. Why not play on grass, prove a point, earn revenues and sponsors and then shift over to the turf in a plethora of cities?

And please! We haven't got the best of teams in years - dhanraj pillay can replace almost anyone in this shabby side.


Prateek said...

While infra and quality of play is one side of sports, marketing and interested eyeballs is the other. And I think PHL has done a decent (not great) job of marketing the game. Money is as important and if someone wants to pump, i think he should be more than welcome. The show has its flaws but I would like to believe that a tournament is better than no tournament at all!

Too early to write the obituary of ESPN in India. They do show all the non-india matches. Plus the India matches played outside the subcontinet & neutral venues. That they are not in a great shape is no secret. An I see no wrong in this attempt!

JeevSingh said...

what is PHL? Punjab Hockey League?

Prateek said...

Premier Hockey Leage ( : Information on this link might be dated though.