India is the land of the Vedas, which has defined almost every aspect of human lifestyle. Back then, Bharatvarsha was ruled by the powerful men. The power of man was his strength due to his Sena (army), which, in turn, was made by a people possessing mastery over the use of weapons. It was this aptitude which led to competition among men, and gave birth to the early sports of archery, athletics, swimming, wrestling, etc.
History reveals that Teerandazi (archery), Talvarbazi (fencing), Ghursavari (Equestrian) and Mallvidhya (wrestling) traced their origin to ancient Indian culture. The sports which used weapons of war, such as the javelin (toran) and the discus (chakra), found their existence in the past. The Mahabharata has many characters which were champions of these sports.
Arjuna and Karna were known to be great archers, whereas Bhima, Jarasandha and Duryodhana were among the wrestlers. Lord Krishna was known for his Chakra. In the indoor games, chausar and shatranj (chess) were among the common sports. Many examples of other sports such as swimming and athletics were also found in historical writings. The Yogas were considered the base for many Indian sports, especially martial arts. With the pace of time, many sports came into existence. Among them, Kabaddi was one of the sports which gained wide popularity all over Asia.
During the period when India was under foreign rulers, many other sports were introduced. The most important development in sports was brought by the Europeans. The sports using wooden articles were among them, and there comes hockey, cricket etc. With the advancement of sports throughout the world, especially with the international competitions, several sports witnessed rapid development. India emerged as one of the undefeated champions of hockey in the mid-20th century. The champions could not sustain their victory long enough. It was cricket which emerged as the most widely accepted sport in the late 1900’s.
The once most popular kabaddi, was now replaced by hockey, which in turn, was replaced by cricket, with the passage of time time. These days, cricket can be unofficially stated as a national game. Despite the great history of indigenous sports, cricket has reached on top of the list of sports in India these days. Why would this game not peak the list, when some of the best cricketers of the world belong to India?
Let’s take the one side. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is one of the multi billionaire sports authorities of the world. In the mid-20th century, hockey was among the most liked sports, but with the downfall of the game, its craze was out. It was the emergence of cricket in the later half of century, with a big win over the then cricket superpower, the West Indies, that the craze for this game took a momentum and never stopped till date.
Despite this, Indians are performing well in other games as well. The champions and masters ruling over the world are from Indian side of cricket. The all time master and run machine, Sir Donald Bradman, had seen his shadow in Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar. Little Master Sunil Gavaskar was the first to score ten thousand runs in test cricket. The list is long for the branded Indian cricketers.
India is a land of emotions. Any game, if attached with the emotions of the public, will be liked by them. It was due to the continuous gold medal winning by the Indian hockey team in the Olympics, which urged Indians to like the game. This winning spirit is seen in the Indian cricket team, and as a result, the public is mostly attracted towards this game.
Further, the man behind the win is made the hero by the media. The media enhances its affection towards the person for a particular aspect. The impact is up to the level that a single win in cricket will make the headlines of the paper. This has great impact on the mindsets of the people.
Moreover, the high source of income, other than the professional fees, is also attracting the youth to like the game of cricket. This is not the same with all other games. The reasons may be several, but the most important one is the low dependency on the Government. The BCCI seeks money from the government, whereas this is not the case with other sports in India. A self sufficient board could generate their own resources, which is true with cricket in India.
Let’s take other side of sports in India. All other games are overshadowed. Again, there could be several reasons. I find it discriminate to be giving importance to cricket in India, forgetting all other sports. What are the reasons? First of all, no other sports are making the headlines. If headlines are made, there is no consistency. Many argue for the insufficient resources or facilities from government side. I would rather say why not becoming self sufficient, as the case of the cricket board. Once the concerned authorities become self sufficient, they would also be loved by Indians. For that, the consistency of the performance has to be maintained at all the fronts. Only this will attract the public towards other sports.
The performance of the Indian cricket team keeps improving with every subsequent match. The sport of the firangi, is now a part of Indians. Indian cricketers are making world records that are unbeatable, then how can its craze go down? Time will tell, whether cricket, unofficially, our national game, will be the national game of India in the future.
Satya Prakash Mehra