Sports in India

Essay by coolkad October 2004

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As Indians, the word 'sports,' brings to mind the game of cricket--and hockey to some extent. No other sport can compare to the popularity of cricket in India. But why is this so? Why does a country with one sixth of the world's population obsess about just one sport? The answers lie in facts, in our history.


About 3000 years ago, India was as active as the ancient Greeks, in terms of both physical and mental sports -- chariot racing, polo, archery and wrestling to chess and cards. Much later, just a few centuries ago, the British brought hockey and cricket to India. Indians discovered new sports and their inherent talent at them. Cricket took over as the most popular sport after we gained independence, mainly due to the low requirements. All one needs is a bat and a ball--unlike hockey, where everyone needs to have a hockey stick.

Though we won 8 Olympic gold medals in our national sport -- hockey -- the first in 1928! The first hockey gold as an independent country was in the 1948 Olympics in London, England, where India beat England 4-0 in the finals. The Indian team went on to win more Olympic hockey gold medals in the 1952, 1956, 1964 and 1980 Olympics. After that, the medals dried up -- India only managed solitary bronze medals in tennis, weightlifting and shooting in the last 3 Olympics!

In contrast, the popularity of cricket grew -- especially after the 1983 Prudential World Cup win by Kapil Dev and team. India needed sports heroes, and cricket seemed the only answer.

What is the problem?

Many claim that it is our diet that is to blame. The fact is medical opinions always seem to contradict. Some medical experts blame the physical deficiency on the fact...