A couple quick subjects I would like to comment on, inspired by yesterday’s European Cup final:
Yesterday, in the United States, the final match was not available via over-the-air television. It was on ESPN, and also available online via ESPN3. Now, I am lucky enough to subscribe to the correct ISP to have access to ESPN3, but the vast majority of Internet users do not. And so for those it was either have cable (or satellite), head to the pub, or find an illegal stream.
Based on my Twitter feed, it seemed most folks chose the last option.
Before on the blog, I have talked about what a shame it is that more matches are not made available via legitimate sources to US cricket fans, but I have not talked about watching those same matches illegally. According to Giles Clarke, they are what is killing cricket, as they are stealing revenue from the cricket boards that desperately need the cash. To which most fans, including Jarrod Kimber, respond: fuck you, old man: there is no other way to watch certain matches!
Now, I do not watch illegal streams. If it is not on Willow.tv (which I gladly pay my $20 a month for) or ESPN3, then I do not watch it. I either listen to commentary from the BBC or follow along via Cricinfo. However that choice has more to do with my paranoia about malware than with any sort of moral sanctity.
With that said, an interesting point arises: I firmly believe that file sharing and the like of music, film, TV…etc., is very much ethically and morally wrong. Those are people’s works that they put their heart, soul, and a whole lot of money into, and it is wrong for the average Internet user to download them from sources that the artist did not approve of.
I might catch a little flack for that from the Internet world, but that is my opinion.
And so then shouldn’t it follow that watching illegal streams is equally as abhorrent? Or is it different because it is a stream, not a download? Or is it different because it is a sport, and not a work of art?
Three great questions that I do not have the answers to, but I think as cricket fans they are questions worth mulling over.
At the end of the day, I think watching or listening to something that you do not obtain through the proper channels is stealing. And so, on this matter, I am in agreement with Giles Clarke, despite the fact that the matches are not available to purchase, even if you wanted to.
Spain won yesterday. Their third major international title in four years.
They were without their best striker and their best defender, yet they didn’t even take their game out of first gear until last night – when they turned it on for 25 minutes or so, just long enough to show Italy and the rest of the world that they were leagues better than any other side in the tournament.
Without any doubt, they are the best international side in a generation. And calling them the greatest international side ever, while arguable, is not an overstatement.
And considering the ages of their core players, they could very well win the World Cup two years from now.
They are, officially: a sports dynasty.
And I loathe dynasties.
I hate it when the same team wins everything, all the time. The Lakers, the Bulls, the Yankees, Liverpool in the 70s-80s…etc. It bores me to tears.
Be there is one exception to this rule: Cricket.
I love dynasties in cricket. The West Indies, Australia…etc. Those mythical sides that thrashed everyone for a decade or more. I think it is my favorite thing about the sport. As much as I talk about parity, I would love for a side to emerge that can win in every format and in all conditions.
And, truth be told, that team might be upon us.
Despite what I said a few weeks ago, that England were good not but not great, they could very well be the number one ranked ODI team by the end of the current series against Australia. They could also very well win the T20 World Cup again in September. And they could very well beat the Indians in their series this fall on the subcontinent, maintaining their number one test ranking and proving that they can win in all conditions.
If they do all that, and if the core group stays together over the next five years or so (and those are both mighty big asks) then they could legitimately be called a dynasty: A golden age of English cricket that people will talk about for decades to come.
They are not there yet, of course, but they are closer than any other current side, surely.
And I personally hope that they get there, because I think cricket could really use a good old fashioned dynasty.