Generally, if you open an article here at Hot Air with a sports tag on it we’re talking about football. But perhaps it’s time to expand our horizons a bit in this era of globalism and international harmony. (/sarc) Have you heard about the new sport sweeping the nation? No, we’re not talking about soccer. And it’s not even lacrosse, though that’s been gaining in popularity. I only wish we were talking about curling, which seriously needs a more high-profile national league structure.
No, I’m talking about cricket. It seems that out in Houston, Texas (of all places) cricket is really catching on. And it’s not sandlot level either. Somebody is already in the process of building a massive cricket stadium and setting up a league with multiple teams. (Washington Post)
For hours each Sunday, four circular grassy fields on the side of U.S. Route 290 play host to dozens of men wielding flat-faced wooden bats. Most are immigrants whose conversations are a blend of English, Urdu and Hindi, and terms that many outsiders might find just as foreign — wickets, stumps and bails.
The game they play is cricket, and its emergence here reflects the incredible diversity of the nation’s fourth-largest city and its sprawling reach. Prairie View, situated about 45 miles from downtown Houston, might seem an unlikely place for an international cricket destination, but Houston businessman Tanweer Ahmed is looking to change that.
Ahmed is turning an 86-acre lot into a massive sports complex with seven cricket fields, a youth academy and a stadium big enough to host professional teams.
“Cricket is the second most popular sport in the world after soccer, and the U.S. is missing out on that part of the world,” he said. “But the U.S. has huge potential.”
Clearly, cricket is wildly popular in England, India, much of Asia and beyond. Why this is true remains a mystery, but the popularity of the sport is undeniable. But like many other things coming out of Europe, that doesn’t mean that it automatically translates to an American audience. This may be particularly true for cricket when you consider American appetites for sporting events.
The biggest reason is the length of the matches. Your typical American football game runs for roughly three hours… perhaps as much as four if there are a lot of penalties and it goes into overtime. Baseball games can vary a bit, but even record-setting marathon tie games are still wrapped up in a single night. Hockey is closely regulated in time, as is soccer. But your average cricket match is played over three to five days with, at least, six hours of cricket being played each day. There are apparently single day cricket matches (I confess I don’t know anything about the rules) but they take at least six hours.
How many Americans are going to sit through that much activity just to cheer on their team for a single game? From the sounds of the description in the linked article, the majority of the people in the Houston area who are pushing cricket are immigrants from various nations where the game is popular. But that’s not how Americans generally consume their sports. We like fast paced games with plenty of scoring and action we can cheer. That’s yet another factor in why soccer will never be as big as football. Too many of the games end in a zero-zero tie and have to go to some sort of obscene penalty kick phase to decide a winner.
I’m not saying cricket should be banned. Far from it. Even when it comes to sports we live in a free-market, capitalist system. If you want to launch a cricket league and you can attract enough of an audience to make it popular, best of luck to you and I hope it turns out well. But I’m not sitting through an endless marathon of cricket.