With sports taking on international colors the business community is catching on to its tail and thriving. It is thriving with such great gusto that sometimes one pauses to wonder which came first – the chicken or the egg, the game or the sponsors! With the media throwing in its lot from war paint to feathers, from shirts to shoes, from kneecaps to wrist supports everything is in. Sports persons have become brand ambassadors and perhaps the ultimate loser is the quality of the game in this mad hysteria for name and fame. It is difficult to find a Maradona or a Pele in the backyards of Brazil.
Different shops specialize in different kinds of sports goods. Any and everything however can be found and bought online.
For instance : in the world of footballs each different code uses a different kind of balls. In soccer a sphere is used. A prolate spheroid with rounded ends is played in rugby. The pointed type is for American and Canadian football. The ball has to be sphere, which is filled with air having a circumference of 68/70 cm. Most of the latest footballs are stitched with 32 panels of leather that is waterproof. Adidas Telstar was the official ball of World Cup 1970.
Unfortunately a big stigma has been attached to the manufacture of footballs. It is alleged that child labor it used in this industry. 60% of the world’s supply comes from Sialkot, Pakistan. Now it is supposed to be totally free from this accusation.
Football goods relate to not only balls but jerseys, socks, shoes, advertising banners and of course the net enclosure materials. Even if things are not required the media manages to inculcate a feeling of want in the spectators so that an artificial market is created that fetches good money.
The same holds true of tennis. Tennis itself does not require more than racquets, balls and a net. Tennis shops deal in tennis bags, tennis ball hopper, special clothes, headbands and even the drinking glasses bear sponsored labels.
Coming to cricket there are many items on the shopping shelves. First there is the red ball wrapped in twine covered with leather. It should have a 9” circumference. The bat is of wood and the wood is either Kashmir or English willow. It cannot be more than 38”x4.25”. The handle is long with a smooth face on one side. Then there are the stumps and bails, the sightscreen and the rope that demarcates the boundary. An abdominal guard is worn together with polo shirt, long white trousers, sun hats, spiked shoes, jumper, helmet with a visor (worn by the batsmen and wicket keeper), leg pads, thigh, arm, chest and elbow guard. The wicket keeper and batsmen require special gloves. All this gives the appearance of a fort being attacked with gears befitting the soldiers rather than sportsmen! For ODI the team colors have to be worn. These rules mean more money making while the sports sun is shining.
It is the same with any kind of sports gear. Circling the main items, like boats and oars, in the case of rowing, the ancillary units are of equal importance as sports gears in the market. The boat shop is divided into shelves marked – products and equipments, clothing and engine parts and products. Equipments include anchoring, docking, chair for the captain, boat covers. On the shelves marked clothing can be found gloves, rain gear etc. The section on engine parts is very important and deals with the pulse of the boat. Then there are binoculars, safety devices, stoves, water heaters and an endless list than can be minutely located online.
The sports world has become the scene of one of the fastest growing industry in the world. With gambling and the underworld gaining control, life has become dangerous for the players. The call of the day is a balance to restore the sporting spirit and breathe back life into the world of game, fun and frolic.