Waving and yelling, Chennai welcomes Pro Kabaddi

The stadium was packed - the empty patches in the stands were, say, negligible - and the fans were highly amused; amused is downplaying, for the crowd went delirious each time Tamil Thalaivas, the home team, scored in the first game of the day.

Tamil Thalaivas lead 12-11 versus Puneri Paltan in the first half but went on to lose 33-20.

A sports league is but a business that sells entertainment. It helps that a sport is in itself entertaining. So all that is to be done is to make the in-stadium viewing experience irresistibly fanciful.

This, any league does with a standard set of elements: colourful flashlights, interesting mascots, booming music, digital billboards, and a few efforts to engage the audience whenever there's a pause of play - even something as small as a prompt asking the audience to cheer in a specific way. All these, and a fan is prone to get high on fun.

And with Kabaddi, which as a spectacle, has at its core the inherent suspense for as simple an act as a touch - this renders the skills, movements and the body language of the players dramatic - it's quite easier to achieve. Which was evident on the first day of the Chennai leg of the Pro Kabaddi league here.

The stadium was packed - the empty patches in the stands were, say, negligible - and the fans were highly amused; amused is downplaying, for the crowd went delirious each time Tamil Thalaivas, the home team, scored in the first game of the evening. Everyone was on their feet to wave and yell. Yet, Tamil Thalaivas couldn't pay back with a win. It lead 12-11 versus Puneri Paltan in the first half but went on to lose 33-20. Rajesh Mondal top-scored with five points for Paltan.

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