The Olympics are a highly respected athletic tournament that encompasses sports and athletes from all over the world. But with India’s crown jewel sport not being included, is it time for the Olympics to become more inclusive globally?
by Prithvi Prem
For roughly 2 weeks every four years, the world’s greatest athletes compete for worldwide respect in the Summer Olympic Games. Since its creation in 1896, the Olympics have brought unity amongst the world and have provided a spotlight to many of the most influential people in history. Every four years, over 3 billion people from around the world watch the Olympics, a viewership only rivaled by those of the World Cup and the Tour de France.
The games have also expanded a lot over the past century, going from only 43 events in 1896, all the way to 339 events in the 2021 games. With 339 events, you would think that the second most popular sport in the world would be included in that number. But you would be wrong. In fact, Cricket is the only sport out of the top 10 in the world which is not present at the Olympic games.
Here is where the Trilemma is presented. Should Cricket be inducted into the Olympics? Or is the Olympics better without it?
POV 1: Cricket should be an Olympic sport.
It is estimated that over 2.5 billion people follow Cricket, which makes it the second most popular sport, behind football. As a sport this high in popularity, cricket should definitely be in the Olympics. Sports like Baseball and Softball have been introduced back into the Olympics, in spite of having a relatively low global audience. If these sports can be in the Olympics, why not Cricket? The Olympics, as well as the host cities, can garner massive revenue from the sport, as it will undoubtedly bring thousands of people to come to watch the event. Along with that, there will be a huge positive spike in the Olympics’ global viewership. Tons of fans will watch their favorite team playing on the international platform, making the sport a hot property in even the smaller cricketing nations.
Cricket’s inclusion in the Olympics could also result in more people being introduced to the sport, possibly producing more cricket fans. This can be valuable, especially for Women’s Cricket, which can definitely benefit from its inclusion in the games. Cricket being put in the Olympics can also help increase spending by the countries themselves. However, cricket is sadly losing its ground in countries like the Netherlands and Denmark, mainly because the country isn’t diverting much money to fund the program. If cricket is put in the Olympics, the countries will have to put money towards their cricket programs, which can bring a lot of fans into the sport.
POV 2: Cricket Should Not be an Olympic Sport
The Olympics should be the apex of any sport that participates, not just a way for them to try to break into a new market. Olympic glory should be the pinnacle of each athlete's career and not just another medal in the trophy case. Unfortunately for cricket, there are already many events that could very well be its pinnacle. There’s the ODI World Cup and T20 World Cup or even the World Test Championship. If one of these events is held in higher regard than the Olympics, countries might not view Olympic cricket as an event of high importance, which might cause them to feature younger, inexperienced players, making the matches less entertaining.
Although it may be the world’s second most popular on paper, cricket is played consistently at the highest level by only ten countries, and only four of those (Australia, England, India, and New Zealand) aren’t troubled by financial issues and are truly competitive. However, in New Zealand, cricket’s popularity is eclipsed by rugby while cricket in England is slowly wearing away. Unless more countries start investing in their cricket program, the sport’s inclusion into the Olympics is very unlikely.
Another issue with cricket in the Olympics stems from the formats that can be played. Cricket games normally are pretty lengthy, with some formats going as long as five days. The format most likely to be used is the T10 format, in which the matches are 90 minutes long with each team bowling 10 overs. Although this format would produce the most entertainment, it contains little of the strategy and everything else that makes cricket the sport it is. T10 is an extremely long way from being the peak format of cricket. Playing T10 cricket at the games would hardly be showcasing the sport at its best.
POV 3: The World’s Perspective