Civil Discourse Now

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Death sport on its way to Indianapolis with East side's Elysian Fields cricket venue.

   A death in the sport of cricket---not the safe, barroom dart game made safer still when played with plastic-tipped darts, but the competition in which players wear padded, white uniforms and brandish clubs to swing at spherical projectiles---has occurred in South Africa. Thirty-two-year-old Darryn Randall was struck in the head while at bat in the town of Alice in the Southeast Cape. He had been a world-class cricketer. He was struck in the head during a match. There was no indication whether he was wearing a helmet when he was struck.

   Any death in sports is tragic. I will not even toss out my usual sarcastic comment about the New York Yankees (or the increasingly evil St. Louis Cardinals who, btw, might be on life-support in the World Series after last night's loss to the increasingly annoying Boston Red Sox). We live in Indianapolis, where the primary draw in the world of sports for a century has been an event that is (or has been, until we have seen all those empty seats the last couple of years on the main stretch) the World's most-attended single day sports event, the Indianapolis 500. Open-wheel motor sport is no stranger to death, either on the course or in the stands. Players die in football. A base coach died last year in baseball. Bing Crosby died on a golf course.

   Mr. Randall was a sportsman who died at play in a sport we may presume enjoyed, or at least in which he had a valued skill. Cricket---the game with wickets and bowling, etc.---is not a sport acculturated to people here. I would suggest:

   1) If the intent is to get people to acquire an interest in cricket, expend energy in schools and encourage kids to acquire a taste for the game. Aficionados of what we call soccer have worked at such a goal since the early 1970s. That is a game that is among or is the most popular in the rest of the World. The City of Indianapolis should not spend millions of dollars to try to educate our kids to like a sport few, if any of them, have played. Soccer fans had an advantage. The overhead for soccer is pretty low. One need only have Mr. Wilson---okay, that was a volley ball in the Tom Hanks movie, but the ball was about the same size---to play soccer. Cricket requires pads, gloves, bats, balls and wickets.

   2) If the goal is to derive income for Indianapolis for the throngs of cricket fans from the Caribbean, India, Pakistan and other places where cricket fanciers reside, Mayor Ballard's and Mayor Vaughn's efforts are ill-fated. A Florida city gave the cricket sanctioning organization a nice deal and was blown off. Cricket stands were empty. About $50 million got blown. Besides, if the "deal" for cricket people is the same as that for the NFL to bring the Super Bowl to the Circle City, we definitely should take a "pass." No one (probably) will know the true bottom line of the 2012 Super Bowl for Indianapolis. One may fairly say the ROC lease fiasco's costs were not written in red on the final ledger. If one asks such questions as how much did we spend on the Super Bowl? one usually is met with a statement about how much people enjoyed the zip lines on Georgia Street. Folks, those were very expensive zip lines.

   So beware the Jabberwock, or any program by which a public entity---here the City of Indianapolis---foots the bill for advancement of a sport. Jim Irsay is a billionaire thanks to taxpayers, many of whom cannot afford to buy a Colts (r) jersey, much less a ticket to a game at Lucas Oil  Stadium. We should let cricket bypass us for a municipality, like Detroit or Chicago or Cleveland, in position to afford such luxuries. We should spend our money on schools, streets, public safety, and other boring necessities, not the flashy, death-defying spectacle of an activity like cricket.        

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