What's On Your Mind, Mr. Buffett ? 2017

The Great Indian circus

With mindless money invested and unrealistic valuations prevailing, what qualifies for a bigger tamasha — the stock market or the IPL?


The Indian Premier League (IPL) is completing its decennial celebrations. For the uninitiated, it is a six to eight-week long and eight-team strong T20 cricket tournament held during peak summers in India. A 20-over match with all the 10 wickets available per side, T20 is a hybrid between the Double Wicket that used to be played more than a decade ago and the normal One Day International (ODI). IPL started off in its old avatar as the Indian Cricket League without the blessings of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and it was, therefore, grounded within a couple of years to make way for BCCI’s own product. It was a defining moment in Indian cricket. A sport was transforming into a tamasha. The odds were heavily loaded in favour of the batsmen with dollops of Bollywood glamour and sprinkles of masala thrown in. Purists who treat sport as a form of recreative expression or a hobby or an exercise or a gentleman’s game may kindly take a backseat. As it’s now a form of entertainment bigger than one’s imagination, much like it used to be in the Colosseum. Thank God! It’s not gruesome, except for the bowlers!

The economics

In the case of IPL, the BCCI holds all the rights (including title sponsor and media), which it sells to various advertisers and platforms. It shares some of these revenues with the team owners and keeps the rest for itself. It was born in the pre-independence era at the behest of our rulers to coordinate with various state cricket associations to organise matches. It somehow earned the divine right to (mis)govern anything to do with organised cricket in the country. Such authority was not very valuable then, but has become highly valuable now, so much so that we have people from different walks of life drooling over each other flexing their muscle up the ladder.

If we were to look at the ‘value chain’ of IPL, BCCI is the originator whose sources of revenues are the


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