The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought India’s medical infrastructure to its knees, bringing along with it death and distress across the country. As lakhs test positive every day and families run from pillar to post to find a hospital bed or even worse, for oxygen cylinders, in another part of the country, every day cricket teams run between the wickets to keep the masses entertained and within their homes. The dichotomy caught the attention of netizens this weekend and generated divided opinions on social media on whether the annual edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) should continue.
Partha Sinha, President at BCCL, shared a post on LinkedIn, conducting a poll on this, writing, “There are arguments both in favour of and against carrying on with IPL during this crisis period. Let’s hear the opinion of people on my timeline.” Until Sunday night 57% had voted for it to be continued.
Most suggested that it should be allowed to continue as it helps keep people at home and provides them a distraction from the misery around them. However, others suggested the IPL should share some profits for Covid Care and use the platform to raise awareness.
While many insist that the IPL should go on as it provides succour from the everyday strain on people’s mental health due to the pandemic, the key argument against holding the matches is the inappropriate timing as thousands are dying every day in the country. It almost comes across as insensitive and tone deaf.
The point is not about pro IPL or anti IPL. It is about the tone-deafness with which this current edition is being held. Dissociated from reality. The hype unrelenting. Not one person acknowledging the tragedy unfolding. How can this be okay?— Siddhartha Vaidyanathan (@sidvee) April 21, 2021
Many said if the matches were conducted outside India, it would not be as much of an issue. But having matches in the same cities where people are struggling for medical resources comes across as insensitive. Lauding R Ashwin for actively using social media to provide help for Covid emergencies, there were some tweets urging more cricketers to do their bit in helping the distressed.
Heart breaking to see what’s happening around my country! I am not in the healthcare fraternity, but my sincere gratitude to each of them. I would also like to make an earnest appeal to every Indian to exercise caution and stay safe.— Stay home stay safe! Take your vaccine???????? (@ashwinravi99) April 23, 2021
On Saturday, Australian cricketer Adam Gilchrist and Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Akhtar raised the same question.
Best wishes to all in India ???????? Frightening Covid numbers. #IPL continues. Inappropriate? Or important distraction each night? Whatever your thoughts, prayers are with you. ????— Adam Gilchrist (@gilly381) April 24, 2021
BCCI & PCB should both rethink if this is a good time to continue the IPL or restart the PSL. Things are tough. All resources should go towards helping people in these devastating times.— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) April 25, 2021
Check out the complete video on https://t.co/F6Wp1VNszn#cricket #IPL2021 #psl #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/QFLAaoA7hG
Meanwhile, The New Indian Express and its sister publication Morning Standard, in a bold move, announced that they had decided ‘to suspend IPL coverage in the newspaper with immediate effect till a semblance of normalcy is restored’.
“In such a tragic time, we find it incongruous that the festival of cricket is on in India, with layers of bio bubbles creating protection. This is commercialism gone crass. The problem is not with the game but its timing. Cricket, too, must accept that we are passing through an unprecedented crisis,” stated a notice issued by the newspaper on Sunday.
This decision also got a mixed response on social media.
New Indian Express stops IPL coverage saying 'crass commercialism' has gone too far. Mixed feelings. I'm no IPL fan but isn't the entire point of entertainment that it allows us to forget our reality for some time? Still great to see an Indian paper taking on paisa league— Sudipto Mondal (@mondalsudipto) April 25, 2021
Many compared the IPL to the elections and said in that case, the newspaper should not be covering the Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, Assam, West Bengal and Kerala.