Fans must reclaim ground from fanatics, BCCI must expel louts from cricket grounds

MI Fanbase and Jay Shah
MI Fanbase and Jay Shah (PC: X)

The divide between fans who contribute generously to the making of a sport and fanatics who discredit it is growing. And the rising number of fanatics are tarnishing the image of fans in the Indian Premier League this season. No athlete – and his/her family – deserves such treatment, no matter how much he/she seems to ignore the provocation.

Indeed, each year we lament the degeneration of the IPL spectator. For instance, here is what I wrote on RevSportz last year when instead of celebrating centuries by Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli many fans ended up indulging in toxic trolling. Surely, it is possible to admire one star without having to spew venom on others, I had hoped, fervently and sincerely.

However, it seems to have got worse this year, especially in the wake of Mumbai Indians’ decision to have Hardik Pandya replace Rohit Sharma as the team captain. The transformation of some fans into fanatics and their emergence as harsh critics, thanks to ‘knowledge’ growth and the unbridled power of social media, have been alarming.

For the Latest Sports News: Click Here

RR Superfans have been very supportive of RR
RR Superfans have been very supportive of RR (Source:

Come to think of it, fanaticism in Indian cricket is not new. There have been times when a Mohammed Kaif’s home was defaced and a Rahul Dravid’s car vandalised. A Test match has been played before empty galleries because of boorish behaviour of some fanatics and the curtain came down on a World Cup semi-final match early for similar reasons.

The sad reality is that fanatics do not pause for a moment before they shame the very sporting spectacle they are attending. Worse, their behaviour is shockingly persuading more fans to cross the line and contribute to the decline of the magical art of spectating that makes cricketing legends from across the world wish they were born in India to soak in the adulation.

So then, what are some ways in which cricket spectating can be rescued from hooligans?

To begin with, fans must reclaim the space that is genuinely theirs and not cede any more ground to fanatics so that watching the game largely remains a pleasurable pursuit. They must avoid being trapped by the herd mentality that takes over without notice. It may seem fun at the moment but it leaves deep scars in several minds.

I remember a time when Delhi Daredevils fans on social media were trolling one steadfast fan and a member of the squad came up with the idea of presenting match tickets and a team jersey to that fan. When all-rounder Irfan Pathan handed over the tickets and the jersey, the joy on the fan’s face was to be seen to be believed. Teams can offer exemplary rewards to diligent fans.

Fans have multiple ways in which to feel connected with their on-field heroes now
Fans have multiple ways in which to feel connected with their on-field heroes now (Image: KKR)

One thing that the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) can do is conduct extensive research into crowd behaviour to identify and shut the door on the fanatics. More importantly, by rewarding fans of cricket with easier access to tickets, it can encourage better spectating. Perhaps it can go to the extent of laying down that watching domestic cricket would be the gateway to IPL tickets.

Until that happens, the BCCI can take the proactive steps with warnings for louts. We have seen notices in cricket grounds in Australia, warning fans that racist behaviour would lead to expulsion from the stands. It should not be difficult for the BCCI to post such warnings against boorish, uncouth behaviour and expel a few toxic fanatics by way of setting an example.

Back in 1980, Richard Cashman, an Australian professor of Indian History at the University of New South Wales attempted to examine cricket spectators at India’s Test venues, even analysing their different behavioural patterns. Perhaps the time has come for the BCCI to take more than just a leaf out of that idea and initiate a psycho-sociological study of the Indian cricket fan.

Things have changed immensely. Time was when cricket fans had a sense of participation but now they seem to have moved that to a sense of entitlement. The ‘No Bedi, No Test’ and the ‘No Kapil, No Test’ protests of the 1970s and ‘89s seem like a peashooter compared to the vitriolic behaviour of the fanatics in the wake of Hardik Pandya’s elevation to the Mumbai Indians captain’s role.

With face recognition software becoming quite commonplace, the BCCI should not hesitate to invest in crowd control technology. Since India aspires to host the Youth Olympic Games and Olympic Games, it may be a good idea for security personnel to get used to the idea of using such technology and even Artificial Intelligence to ensure better crowd control, if not crowd behaviour.

Also Read: Stephen Fleming, the unsung hero of Chennai Super Kings

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *