Sports leaders dodge the crunch
Credit Crunch? What credit crunch? That may well be the cry in global sports.
On Sunday, the NFL plays one of its regular season games at Wembley - the second time it has done so. The ratings for the first game last year were so good that, despite the economic downturn, the NFL is eagerly eyeing more television dollar revenues.
In many ways cricket provides the most interesting example of bucking the downturn.
Yet last weekend when the Indian Premier League and its franchises met in Bangkok the talk was not about cutting back but more investment. Clearly many Indians believe they have found the cricket format which is a license for printing money.
The IPL cap for purchasing players has increased from $5m to $7m. In addition there is to be a one-month trading window from 15 December and this will not be subject to budgetary limits.
The franchises sold earlier this year, long before the crash, did not come cheap costing up to $112m, but already they have recovered 80% of their money. Some franchises have increased in value to $300m.
Not bad for a start-up which was not even a gleam in the eye of the Indians a year ago.
And it is the IPL which is driving other money-making ventures in cricket, such as next weekend's Allen Stanford's $1m-a-man match in Antigua.
The buoyancy of these sports reflects the fact that they all see themselves in a race to be the number two sport in the world, number two to the unchallenged number one world sport - football.
Interestingly the strength of these wannabes at number two spot also shows how they interact with football.
So in India Kunal Dasgupta, the chief executive of Sony Entertainment, which has the rights to the IPL says that young Indians, aged 15 and under, are flocking to football more than cricket because of the attraction of the Premier League and the Champions League.
This must be good news for the Premier League. It will eye the Indians markets for a substantial rise in revenue when it sets about doing its next television deal.
Indeed such is the mood of optimism that the leaders in the sports industry were entertained to a lavish meal near St Paul's Cathedral in London on Thursday followed by a conference on Friday telling us how sports sell when nothing else seems to do so.
But is this not just the sort of hype you would expect from the people who run these sports? Surely sports cannot buck the economic turbulence as they say?
Before I answer that question let me tell you what happened during a breakfast meeting with those involved in either running or televising rugby, NFL or cricket...
One journalist asked: "Is sponsorship in these difficult times an indulgence, as jobs are lost and firms close down?"
No sooner had the journalist uttered the words then one of the sports representatives reacted as if the journalist had offered him violence.
He stopped munching his salmon sandwich and declared that sponsorship was not an indulgence, those days were long gone. Adding that sponsorship was very good business, more so now.
The question was in the context of the fact that Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), now virtually a UK government bank, has been sponsoring cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and RBS advertisement is very prominent in the stadiums where the India versus Australia series is being played.
Recession or no recession, RBS sponsorship of Sachin Tendulkar still makes good commercial sense. That is the message the leaders of the sports industry are giving.
Nobody knows how deep this recession may be, or how long it may last. But for the moment sports, certainly, are not singing a song of doom and gloom but one of remarkable optimism. But that, you could say, is sport in a nutshell.
It has the capacity to breed optimism even when there seems nothing to be optimistic about.
And as any sports fan knows, such optimism often proves misplaced.