Basketball Really? Even i was surprised but when the name Reliance is involved it does not take long to believe, does it. RIL group has signed an agreement with sports agency IMG for the formation of Indian Professional Basketball League (IBL). Apparently, Basketball Federation of India has given the go ahead to this agreement which involves commercial rights to basketball in India right from broadcasting, sponsorship, merchandising etc.
Betting Big On The Success That Is IPL
Let’s face it. Even with all the controversies surrounding it, IPL indeed was a game changer of sports. The whole concept of professional leagues in sports germinated in India with IPL and has now become a phenomenon. Apparently, IMG was the sports agency which helped established IPL and is now trying to replicate the same model in alternative sports. Well, I have my skepticism of the choice of sport here because Cricket and Basketball in India is like comparing Apples to Oranges. However, with the financial backing of the RIL group, i think IMG can actually do wonders in making Basketball a well known game in India too.
It is also interesting to see the new found interest in sports from the corporate sector. RIL group already owns Mumbai Indians and so do other corporate like GMR Group, Kingfisher etc. Moreover, UB Group has also made huge investments to put India on the Formula One map with its team Force India which may not have made a big impact is surely improving with time.Mahindra group already has a tie-up with the NBA for promoting basketball among the youth.
Could the venture really turn basketball from a hobby game to a game with mass following like Cricket. In my opinion, if basketball can get half as popular as cricket it would be nothing short of a miracle. There are reasons as to why the Indian Professional Basketball League might work for the better
- A 30 year contract means that both the involved parties are putting long term commitments into making this venture a success. The focus initially is to help improve the infrastructure and develop the sport in India. So, both IMG and RIL group are expected to work from the grass routes to think of getting a return on the investment from the venture
- New avenues for sporting talent in India: Over 1 Billion population and the only sport people are crazy about is Cricket. A lot of this is attributed to the lack of investments in developing other sports in India and obviously the fame and money that only cricket players enjoy right now. With new avenues opening up and enough financial backing, we might see a new breed of youngster picking up basketball as an option
All in all, a very good news and a welcome initiative to promote alternate games in India.Only time will tell if IBL would be able to replicate the success of IPL but the chances of basketball becoming a well known sport in India are ripe. Call it the world cup fever but i am wondering if Football will find any takers because as a nation we could definitely see some improvement in this particular sport too.
What do you think of the Indian Professional Basketball league? Do you think RIL has played the right cards by choosing Basketball as the next big sporting spectacle for India?