By Nitin Choudhury:
To say that cricket is the most popular sport of India, would be an understatement. Cricket is a religion and cricketers are treated like god in India. It is unofficially the national sports of India. The IPLs and T20s have only added to its popularity. It is hard to find an Indian who is not a cricket fan and almost every Indian at one point in their life must have dreamt of becoming a cricketer. I am no exception to that and I enjoy cricket just as much. But what we must not forget is that, there are other sports too and they deserve as much interest, recognition and encouragement.
With a population of more than a billion, India comes second only to China, but that is not even slightly reflected in the Olympics medal tally. Even the poverty stricken African nations manage to bag more medals than we do. The medals and achievements that we do win are personal winning of individuals, and not the country’s achievement (which they are proclaimed to be). The example of Abhinav Bindra, who won gold in 10m Air Rifle event at 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, shows the negligence of the government towards other sports. What many of us don’t know is that Abhinav Bindra comes from an affluent family and that all his efforts were self-financed, self-trained and self-sponsored in winning that gold medal, with least support from the government.
It certainly a sorry state of affairs when people can easily recall which cricket player is in which IPL team but they hardly know 3-4 players from other sports like hockey (India’s national sport), football, badminton or chess. All sports must be given equal importance and promoted equally.
However, only the government can’t be held responsible for the plight of other sports in the country. Firstly, the Board of Control of Cricket in India, BCCI has done a marvellous job in marketing and popularising cricket. It has managed to attract sponsors and the media alike, generating huge revenues. The boards of other sports have failed at this miserably and they are not even close to the BCCI. They need to learn to create interest about their sport from BCCI. The BCCI too can guide them and support them financially. Secondly, the media is also responsible for promoting cricket and neglecting the other sports. Media is considered as the fourth pillar of a country and it’s the media’s responsibility to promote each sport equally instead of obsessing with just cricket. For people to be interested in other sports, they at least need to be informed about the sports. Finally, we the audience must also realise that cricket is just a sport like any other. We should appreciate other sports in a similar manner because they are just as amusing as cricket.