The most popular sports in India

Having in the gaming and casino scene for a majority of my career, I’ve developed a keen interest in sports. Since the beginning of civilization, there has existed rigid dichotomy between sports and the gaming industry.

Sports is an interesting anthropological phenomenon. It serves no purpose in production nor the facilitation of economic resources. The opposite is true in fact; it requires extensive resource allocation for now tangible output. Yet since the dawn of civilization, it’s been in existence. Sports has been used as a political and entertainment tool, to unite or distract the population.

In this blog, I take a look at the most popular sports in India.

1. Cricket

Introduced by the British during the colonial era, this game is considered to be more of religion here. Indian cricket boasts a very large fan base not seen elsewhere. Several reasons are cited behind its sustained popularity. Matches are telecasted regularly while premier sporting channels promote them. Indian cricket since the winning of the first World Cup trophy in 1983 has always been in contention for the top spot. It has given birth to several Indian legends like Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar, MS Dhoni, Anil Kumble, etc. This sport also enjoys mega endorsements.

2. Football

It is the world’s most popular sport but regarded as an enigma in India. Sepp Blatter, the former FIFA President calls this sport a ‘sleeping giant’. It seems to be more of a spectator sport in India. The ISL has managed to garner a good follower base though. Additionally, the game is bolstered by the European club tournament fans, thus increasing the game’s popularity in India. One of the most viewed sports leagues is the Premier League. The popular European football bodies have helped generate the younger Indian crowd to promote the sport in the country.

3. Badminton

Although badminton has been played in the country for quite a long time, it is only recently that Indian players are gaining fame internationally. Players like Saina Nehwal won the bronze medal in 2012 at London Olympics. P.V. Sindhu, her younger counterpart managed to surpass Nehwal’s achievements. In 2016, she picked up a silver medal at the Rio Games. There are also other well-known players like Jwala Gutta, K. Shrikant and Ashwini Ponnapa. The Premier Badminton League was launched by the BAI (Badminton Association of India) in 2013 to promote the game.

4. Kabaddi

It is one of the oldest sports played across India. It has managed to enjoy the center stage once again in Indian sports with the launch of the Pro-Kabaddi League in 2014. PKL is considered to occupy the second spot just next to IPL in terms of popularity. It enjoys a huge viewer base including willing sponsors. The world’s top two playing nations are India and Iran. Until 2017, India managed to win all World Cups held.

5. Hockey

Although considered to be the national sport of the country, the game is still trying to climb back to the heights of its golden years. During the golden years, every Indian team had managed to win gold medals at the Olympic Games. The country dominated world hockey with 8 Olympic gold medals led by the legendary player Dhyan Chand. However, the introduction of new rules of playing on an artificial turf did not work well for the team. Thus, it saw a gradual decline. 2013 saw the launch of the HIL (Hockey India League) taking a cue from the IPL model. The FIH (Federation of International Hockey) recognized the tournament, allowing top players from various nations to participate with a thirty-day window.

6. Wrestling

This sport enjoys a striking undercurrent in rural India. The Indian team has won several medals by participating in several major tournaments. Indian wrestling is more synonymous with the akhada sports style. Indian grapplers managed to create a strong impression on the international stage. Since 2008, the team earned a medal at each Olympic game played. The most successful Olympian is Sushil Kumar, who won twice in the Olympics. Box-office hits like Dangal and Sultan have further popularized the game.

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