Ask any parent and they’ll tell you that one of the best ways to get a misbehaving child to behave is to take away their candy. That the Lodha Committee sees the BCCI as an errant organisation isn’t exactly news, but now with the Supreme Court agreeing with their suggestion of freezing financial activity, it would seem that even the school principal has decided to play bad cop.
Sports fans across India are familiar with the trend of how athletes excel despite the system, and not because of it. It’s not unfair to say that the BCCI has, for several reasons, been that one exception. Their care of former cricketers, their grass root initiatives, the slow but visible upgradation of stadia across the country and so many other steps they’ve taken in the past are proof of that.
Yet, given that it’s the apex body of the country’s richest sport, it has attracted politicians and people of influence and that has meant that despite its gradual professionalisation, the BCCI has never been beyond reproach.
However this point in time has been arrived at, the Lodha Committee offers the BCCI that one chance to make changes that will ensure that sports in India can undergo a sea-change in the way it’s run.
The Supreme Court ruling has now basically left Anurag Thakur and his team no choice. If they do not act, they will become the villain. While public opinion is feeble on most matters cricket, this is a perception battle that the BCCI will find near impossible to win if they fail to act. Hence, if we find ourselves in another quagmire on 3 December, it will only isolate the cricketing body from the Indian people who love the game dearly.
On the other hand, between now and then, if the BCCI decides to play a political game and blame the Lodha Committee for not being able to provide for state associations, it will be a clear marker that they’re not interested in actual reform. They have shown enough resistance already to validate that belief. And we also know that the state associations by themselves are, for the most part, self-sustaining bodies. Besides, the Supreme Court hasn’t said disbursements cannot happen, just that an auditor must supervise them.
Yet, like movie goers expect of the quintessential Indian anti-hero who changes for the good of all, every cricket fan somewhere hopes that the BCCI will turn around and accept the sweeping changes and repair the reputation of the administrators as well as wipe off the evils of the past. Evidence so far has been that the volte face might just be a pipe dream.
The next fight in the war for the soul of the BCCI will be the nomination of the independent auditor who will oversee the spending of its funds. Thus far, the BCCI has thrown a tantrum every step of the way of this journey of reform. Now, it has a chance to genuinely show that they’re ready for reform by leading by example and working with the auditor for disbursement of funds. Most parents will tell you that if the elder sibling shares his or her candy, the others are more likely to follow. The big question is does that older child care for those watching at all?