There is no denying the fact that in India, cricket is a religion and here lives the ‘God’ of the game in Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. The most vastly followed and watched game in the country, perhaps, no other country regards cricket as high as it is in India. And thanks to India’s triumph at the recently concluded ICC World Cup 2011 held in the subcontinent, the game is today almost seen as the ultimate saviour with every parent wanting their children to take up cricket as a profession.
Interestingly, BCCI is also the richest sports body in the world leaving behind International Olympics Committee (IOC) and FIFA, world’s two biggest sports bodies, thus promoting cricket like no other game.
However, in all these, India seems to have forgotten some other games and sports that India has always excelled in. So, here’s a look at some other sports that India can definitely give more to besides cricket.
The national sport of the country has brought India 8 gold medals, 1 silver and 2 bronze at the Olympics, the biggest sports event in the world, thanks to the national men’s team. The women’s team has also done exceptionally well winning three consecutive gold at the international level – 2002 Commonwealth Games, 2003 Afro-Asian Games and the 2004 Hockey Asia Cup. However, it’s sad plight today is there for all to see, and perhaps, it is time the govt of the country saves our ‘national sport’.
It may take another century for India to make it to the World Cup final but football is, no doubt, the second most popular sport in the country and the biggest in the world. The 2007 and 2009 success of the Indian national football team at the international level by winning the Nehru Cup here in the national capital has also added to the popularity of the game. Moreover, football is a game that is watched over the world like no other; over 700 million spectators were said to have watched the FIFA World Cup 2010 final between Spain and Holland. This is over 10 times the total number of spectators that watched the ICC Cricket World Cup final between India and Sri Lanka here in India with a viewership of 67.6 million, a record for cricket match.
Indians have been doing exceptionally well in the world of tennis. The Indian pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati has won a total of 21 Grand Slams between them including mix doubles, thus bringing glory to the country. In recent past, Somdev Devverman has been the man of Indian tennis by winning both the men’s singles title at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2010 Asian Games. Sania Mirza has been a leading force at the women’s front. However, the Indian Olympic Association or the Indian government seems to have failed to take advantage of the situation for a brighter future of the sport.
World No.1 of the FIDE World Ranking is Viswanathan Anand of India. Despite having represented India in one of the most highly rated games on the planet and bringing glory to the country by defending his title at the World Chess Championships on many occasions, chess in India appears to occupy very little place when it comes to avid followers and coaches. Perhaps, agencies and the government could do something more for chess by promoting other young players such as Tania Sachdev, Koneru Humpy etc. These players have brought honour and glory to the country at the international level but sadly, not too many Indians seem to recognize or know about them.
Be it Mary Kom, Suranjoy, Akhil Kumar or Vijender Singh, these boxers have brought much glory to India, winning medals at various international events. While Mary Kom is the undisputed world No.1 in the 48-kg women category, Vijender has also done exceptionally to reach the top spot. Indian boxers have also brought honour to the nation by winning medals in the Olympics, 2010 Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. And while it is one of the toughest sports, not many seem to realise the amount of time and energy these boxers have to put in; this is most evident from the fact that they hardly get any sponsors.
Badminton is one sports where Indians have done exceptionally well in the past as well as present. Prakash Padukone, Pullela Gopichand, Saina Nehwal and Jwala Gutta are some of the names that come to mind when one talks of Indian badminton and these players have brought much glory to the nation by wining various international events. Needless to say, Indian badminton players one among the least recognised or ‘rewarded’ players in the country.
Besides these mentioned sports, other sports and games such as volleyball, basketball, kabbadi, wrestling etc. have also brought much glory and honour to India as cricket. However, these sports have not received much limelight as cricket for reasons beyond our thinking.
Therefore, it is perhaps time for a change in the sports scenario of India by giving more coverage to other games apart from cricket. It is sad to note that the 34th National Games held at Ranchi, Jharkhand was not given any due coverage by the media or a sports channel except for Doordarshan. Reason? ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 was being held in India at the same time.
No doubt, cricket is the most popular game in the country but it does not mean that other games and sports that India excels in should be neglected. Perhaps, Indians also need a change in the game system which is rather evident from the recently concluded and boring IPL 4.
In the words of Lalit Modi, we Indians have ‘spoiled our cricketers’ and we are just ‘paying them too much’. Perhaps, it’s time to spoil other players and pay them a little more.