How cricket is reshaping culture and the world of work

The most popular women’s sport is hosting its showpiece event right now. But football (soccer) may not be the most popular for long. Another sport is rising quickly, and it’s changing the world of work, too…

You may have heard of IPL - the Indian Premier League of cricket (if you not, it’s the biggest sports league you’ve never heard of).

The IPL is a juggernaut - now valued at over $15bn, with 505m viewers. But it’s also shifted the way people think about career paths.

Historically, Indian parents have looked down on career paths that don’t involve a rigorous education. With cricket stars becoming incredibly rich and famous, that’s changing. Careers in sports, plus entertainment and media - it’s all opening up.

But the IPL is a men’s league. Most women didn't even get a chance to play cricket as kids. And only 20% of women in India are in the formal workforce.

Isn’t this post about women’s sport and its wider impact?

’tis indeed.

In the last year, some big changes have been happening:

- The Indian women’s league recently launched. Overnight it became the second most valuable women’s sports league - in the world.

- Over 50m viewers tuned into the league’s first season.

- The Indian cricket governing board announced pay parity between male and female international cricketers.

But what’s most interesting is how youth coaches are using the sport as a vehicle to empower girls - especially in rural areas.

New York Times reporters Mujib Mashal and Atul Loke spent time with a girl’s cricket team and their incredible coach Gulab Singh Shergill. Do check it out if you can, it’s wonderful.

Here are 3 parts of their practice that we can all benefit from:

1. Inclusion: No one benefits from being teased because of their financial situation. Everyone’s tiffin boxes are the same, and the coach bought identical shoes for the whole team (remember being teased about your shoes? Yeah, me too.)

2. Process: While the prospect of going pro is hugely exciting, the chances of making it are slim. The coaches remove unwanted pressure and expectation - instead focusing on the process

3. Reflect: All the pieces matter. The girls do a 2 minute silent reflection exercise at the end of every practice

It’s not just women’s football that’s on the up.

That sport with the little red ball is also changing the game…

cover image: The New York Times

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