Five months ago, Akash Jerome’s father packed up his set top box and hid it in the loft, hoping his 14-year-old son would be able to study for the Class 10 board exams without the distraction of a blaring TV set. Akash took the decision really well back then, studied hard and aced his revision exams. Today, the situation is not as peaceful. Akash refused to study for the three most important exams — mathematics, science and social studies, unless his father lets him watch the IPL-6. “He sulked for two days because he missed the opening bash and the first match. He sat with his maths textbook, but his mind was only on cricket. Every 10 minutes, he would check cricinfo for the score on my mobile phone,” says Jerome, who has admitted defeat to his son’s cricket mania. He will re-connect the set-top box and allow the boy to watch the Chennai Super Kings vs Mumbai Indians match on Saturday, though he has a Science exam on Monday. “I do not want him running away to watch the match sitting outside the Vivek’s showroom, like I caught him doing on the night before the Maths exam,” says Jerome.
School teachers and parents of class 10 students have a bone to pick with the organisers of the IPL, held every year during exam season. While the PTA of several schools have convinced parents to get rid of their cable connections until the exams are over, the tech-savvy teens always find a way to get their fix of cricket — from the Internet or on their parents’ mobile phones . “The organisers should have just pushed the tournament by a month, to avoid tempting youngsters who are appearing for these crucial exams. Most boys become cricket-crazy class 6 onwards; they trouble their parents for IPL tickets. My son is in the ninth standard and when we do not let him watch the IPL, he creeps out at 3 am when everybody is sleeping, to watch reruns,” laments K R Nandhakumar, State General Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Nursery, Primary, and Matriculation & Hr Sec School’s Association. The IPL not only clashes with the school exams, but also with important entrance examinations like the Joint Entrance Examination held in April. “Unlike test matches and even other one-day tournaments, the IPL cricket matches have become a craze because they are short, thrilling and glamorous. Even girl students like watching IPL matches. At least next year, the government should intervene and organise the tournament during summer-vacation so everyone can watch at leisure,” Nandhakumar adds. “Every mark missed will make a huge difference. They can record the matches for holidays,” echoes Sheila Rani, a teacher at a school in Velachery.
College students however have no qualms. “But the best thing about college is that we can always attempt the paper again. Nothing compares to watching a CSK match live at Chepauk,” says Sarvesh, a first-year engineering student.