Does India Really Matter

Its Just Numbers Really

Thursday August 10 2017


Recently friend of The Reverse Stick and Hockey commentator Ashley Morrison posted a blog concerning the state of Indian Hockey. It was not an in-depth examination of all that goes on inside the walls of Hockey India, more a broad historical perspective of the path that leads to Hockey in India today. There is a link to the blog in question at Ashley’s Not The Footy Show web site following this editorial .


There is nothing controversial about this blog. No secret revelations or insider information. It is all either on public record or been talked about in Hockey circles, quite publicly, for some time. However the most worrying part of what Ashley wrote concerns the rest of the Hockey world far more than it does India.


“India failed to qualify for the Olympic Games in Beijing, and as a result no one wanted to buy the television rights for the tournament. The International Hockey Federation (FIH) realised then that for Hockey to survive, they needed India.”


It is easy to accept this as a logical and reasonable assessment. After all, there are more than a billion people in India. But it is a rather trite and all too convenient excuse for broadcasters, administrators and, most importantly, supporters to use.


There are approximately 730 million people in Europe, another 570 million in North America. Then there are the 1.2 billion people who inhabit Africa and the 400 million and more in South America. And we can’t forget the 4 billion plus in what we loosely term ‘Asia’. Take out the 1.2 billion Indians and that gives us a rough total of around 6.1 billion. Give or take a couple of hundred million.


The case study here though is the 36 million people, or 0.54% of the worlds population, that makes up Australia and New Guinea. Most of those people live on the east coast of Australia. One football code, the AFL, dominates the ‘southern’ states. The so-called ‘northern’ states are dominated by Rugby codes, predominately by the NRL. There are large parts of both areas that care nothing for the code that is played in the ‘enemy’ territory.


The AFL is in the first year of a broadcast deal worth $2.5 billion Australian, or 1.5 billion pounds, over six years while the NRL has signed a deal worth $1.8 billion, or just over 1 billion pounds, over five years starting in 2018. The AFL is played and consumed almost exclusively in Australia while the NRL registers in New Zealand and parts of the U.K. but is hardly in the same sentence when it comes to global sports such as Hockey.


This doesn’t account for the associated economies that go along with deals such as this. And even if you don’t care for either you are sucked into paying for this economy through officially branded products such as ‘Jim Bobs Headache in a Can’ and yummy fat burgers.


That’s at least $670 million Australian a year, just in broadcast rights. Given that at least 15 of those 36 million Australians care nothing for, nor involve themselves little with either code that’s not a bad little earner.


The FIH dream’s of making a deal like the one the AFL has brokered. Yes circumstance is completely different, but they still wish. What would the Hockey Pro League be like if the FIH was able to throw four or five hundred million pounds into the kitty each year and still have enough to splash out on making a world club competition a reality.


This is not a pipe dream. 20 million fanatical fans keep enough interest for two codes to strike billion dollars deals in a tiny economy at the bottom of the world. 40 million fanatical fans globally would ensure Hockey a very nice financial base.


That should be a realistic goal for the Hockey community out of a potential of 6.1 billion. If we can’t make it work with those numbers then India’s 1.2 billion won’t help, only prolong.


You can read the Not the Footy Show blog that inspired this editorial HERE
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