Why the IPL and its cricketers are staying quiet when India battles worst COVID crisis?
At a time, when the country is reeling under copious pressure where the healthcare system is almost on the verge of a collapse, the Indian Premier League is underway in Mumbai which is among the worst affected cities in India.
India on Thursday broke the global record of most Covid infections in a single day after registering a huge spike of nearly 3.15 lakh fresh cases along with 2,102 deaths in the past 24 hours. The deluge of infections has led to a severe health crisis in the country with PM Modi saying recently that the second wave has hit India "like a storm". What has been particularly worrying during the ongoing Covid surge is the rapid pace at which India is adding new infections. While the number of active cases crossed the 24-lakh mark. India continues to lead the world in terms of average daily cases and now accounts for one in three cases reported every day.
At a time, when the country is reeling under such copious pressure where the healthcare system is almost on the verge of a collapse, the Indian Premier League is underway in Mumbai which is among the worst affected cities in India. The everyday happenings of the IPL are being tracked by a major chunk of the population in the country. The match between Chennai Super Kings and Kolkata Knight Riders played on Wednesday, recorded over 70 lakh people tuning into Hotstar to stream the event online. This is separate from all the others who watch the matches on their televisions.
Why our cricketers are silent?
The numbers are indicative of how much influence the cricket league has in the country and how it has become a day-to-day affair for us. However, despite its massive followership, the IPL hasn't really gone into making any effort to build awareness about the crisis India is facing owing to the second wave of the virus.
No one from the IPL fraternity has taken the effort to discuss the severity of the toll the virus is taking every day as it is not also being heard from the commentators of the game. In the meanwhile, our star cricketers who are playing in the tournament also haven't spoken about it. The likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Yuzvendra Chahal, who have massive fan followers on social media, have kept mum about the coronavirus surge. At least, they could have stepped up to share useful resources on social media.
Social media is playing a vital cog in the dissemination of useful information to fight the virus. People from all over the country have been sharing contacts of hospitals, oxygen suppliers, plasma banks, among other so that it could be widely available for people in need. One such informative tweet or other social media posts from our cricketers could cater to thousands of people who are in need. However, they have chosen to remain mum about the matter. We have seen athletes like Manasi Joshi, para-badminton World Champion, and Jwala Gutta have been quite active about their posts on coronavirus in the country, then why are our star cricketers have chosen to remain silent?
Sports leagues and athletes from all around the world, especially in recent times have shown general awareness towards social causes such as the 'Black Lives Matter' or the murder of George Floyd in the United States of America. When cricket resumed for the first time after coronavirus lockdown, England and West Indies players took a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign. Both teams had already announced they would be wearing BLM logos on their shirts during the three-match series. At a time when expressing opinions on social issues and campaigning for change is becoming more normal for the current generation of players, Indian athletes also should come forward to speak on issues that matter and draw the government's attention.
Has IPL brought a respite?
One can also argue the fact that the Indian Premier League is eliciting a good breather for people who have been worrying all day. It is also helping people to cope up with all the negativity and enjoy a game forgetting the disappointments around us.
No doubt, the IPL has been a big respite in the time of crisis, but shouldn't it also oblige itself to stand with the people who have been supporting them. All it takes a simple social media post to show solidarity. Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton kept India and its people in his prayers on Thursday as the country's coronavirus crisis only got deeper. Hamilton took to Instagram on Thursday saying he had Indian people in his prayers. "Praying for the beautiful people of India this morning. I know this pandemic is hitting many places around the world. Please stay safe out there," he wrote. Can we simply expect at least this much of minimal effort from our cricketers?