MBA student to undertake analysis of cricket in USA
By Venu Palaparthi
Gangaram Singh of San Diego State University announced on Tuesday that
one of his MBA students, Christian Jensen, had begun working on an
applied research paper in cricket. The paper will focus on developing a
framework for cricket in USA so that cricket can replicate the
successes of other sports leagues.
Christian Jensen, who is pursuing his MBA in Sports Management, has
developed an affinity for the T20 format although he has never played
the game. Jensen believes that his outsider’s approach is just what
cricket needs in America. "Insiders don’t always recognize factors
that an outsider can observe. I hope that my analysis will follow a
systematic approach, with an objective outcome," Jensen wrote.
Leading by Example - Lacrosse and Rugby
Jensen is right on the money about the three fast growing sports and
the lessons to be learned from them. Even though we should want cricket
to emulate soccer, soccer is pretty much a mainstream sport in the U.S.
today and already enjoys higher per game attendance than ice hockey or
Lacrosse and rugby are now at the leading edge of emerging sports and
offer very realistic benchmarks for cricket. Lacrosse (+41.8%) and
rugby (+37.7%) showed highest participant gains over the last four years
according to SGMA's 2012 survey of team sports.
In fact, US Lacrosse, lacrosse's governing body formed in 1998,
presides over a sport that has the greatest momentum of any sport in the
US today with junior lacrosse participants increasing at a rate of
117.6% between 2000 and 2008. US Lacrosse now has registered membership
that is over 300,000 and core participants totaling 565,000 last
year. Rugby is estimated to have over 98,000 registered participants
and over 67,000 high school students play rugby for their schools or
clubs. Another 32,000 play college rugby.
The dominant professional leagues for lacrosse and rugby - Major
League Lacrosse (MLL) and USA Rugby League (USARL) - are independent
leagues and are not sanctioned by their respective national governing
bodies. In fact, this is true of most American sports including
basketball, baseball and football.
Academia to the Cricket Field
Jensen's and Prof. Gangaram Singh's efforts to analyze cricket in USA
is expected to fill a huge void in a sport that generally is lacking in
data and metrics.
The last meaningful study of cricket in America was conducted in
2009, when three different groups of MBA students at Columbia University
set out under the supervision of Professor Rajiv Kohli to analyze
demand for international cricket in United States. The students
shared their results with USACA's CEO, Don Lockerbie, who was then
working on Destination USA. Prof. Kohli is also the author of a
Columbia University case study titled "The launch of the Indian Premier League." Prof. Kohli sits on the advisory board of DreamCricket.com.
Prof. SP Kothari of MIT-Sloan, who like Prof. Kohli is a board member
of DreamCricket.com, wrote an opinion piece in October 2007 titled "Let a private cricket league boom"
in The Economic Times arguing for a city-based private league months
before the IPL was announced. His article was so compelling that when
the original IPL Franchise Prospectus was released, his quote
accompanied the introduction.
Another keen cricket fan from academia is Prof. Vijay Govindarajan,
Earl C. Daum professor of international business and the founding
director of Tuck’s Center for Global Leadership.
"We have to ask more fundamental questions about how the world of
cricket is changing and how we need to get the right people and the
right processes to compete in the future," Prof. Govindarajan once told a
newspaper. "Let us selectively forget the stalwarts whose great years
are behind them and focus on building a pipeline of young talent," he
added noting the dearth of the three most important ingredients of world
class organizations - talent, team spirit, and execution discipline.
For the record, he was talking about the Indian debacle in 2007.
Prof. Govindarajan might as well be talking about USA cricket.