By Sonal Batra:
“The national sport of India is cricket” is a misconception held by many in the country itself. The popularity and commercialization of cricket has undoubtedly added to the misconception. Is cricket as a sport to be blamed for having the potential to entertain and have market value above others? It is indeed an asinine statement. The people of the country themselves choose to be ignorant about any sport other than cricket and the Government is biased with the budget allotment. With a victory or a loss the Indian cricket team has an evening of entertainment awaiting them whereas, the other sports teams are not even privileged with a decent air conditioned room for their accommodation.
The not so recent humiliation of PT Usha — who is regarded as one of the greatest athletes India has ever produced and is often called the “queen of Indian track and field” — brought shame not only to the people of the country but the lack of acknowledgment of the Government for sports other than cricket was manifested.
The National Sport of India is Hockey and its players have time and again earned medals and honors across the globe.Â The Indian men’s hockey team is the most successful hockey team in Olympic history with 8 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze medals. The Indian women’s team has won Gold for three consecutive years: during the 2002 Commonwealth Games, the 2003 Afro-Asian Games, and the 2004 Hockey Asia Cup. The players are competitive and have time and again demonstrated their talent and have made India proud. Tennis, chess, wrestling, football, badminton, golf etc are other popular sports played at different levels which have unrecognized potential and their pride in jeopardy only because they seem to have been subsided by TRPs cricket has to offer.
To ensure that different facets of sports are acknowledged, different steps have been taken up by the respective sport authorities. To popularize hockey as a sport, the Indian Hockey Federation has been conducting theÂ Premier Hockey League (PHL), a domestic field hockey tournament in the country since 2005. As compared to the Indian Cricket League, which has been more of a business venture amalgamated with entertainment to earn high profits, PHL is still unknown to most.
Indian sports, other than cricket, are in dire need of resuscitation and popularization. It is not only the respective sport authorities that need changes but the Ministry ofÂ Youth Affairs & Sports need to allocate their funds appropriately. The Media plays a vital role in creating mass awareness and a better coverage of each sport is expected of them. It is only after they introduce other sports in more than a line in their reports will the masses recognize the entertainment factor each has to offer. India as a nation needs to bring about this change to broaden its horizon.
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