Is Cricket Hampering Other Sports In India?

Is cricket hampering other sports in India?

Is cricket hampering other sports in India?

Time and again critics have blamed cricket for over-powering other sports such as hockey, which is by the way our national sport, badminton, football, athletics and many others.

In our cricket crazy nation, this sport is considered no less than a religion with people celebrating a victory as a festival and a loss with burning of effigies and intense national debates on what went wrong. And we all are responsible for this, the Board, Government, sponsors, media and the public of course.

Although cricket does not enjoy the official status of being the national sport in India, it commands much more excitement and a greater fan following than the other sports including the national sport, Hockey.  You can’t find a single sport in India, which could boast of being even in contest with cricket when it comes to popularity and revenue generation

Cricket has also been used as a political tool to bridge the gap between two nations, as seen in the recent World Cup with our Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh inviting the Mr. Yosuf Gilani, Prime Minister of Pakistan to the India-Pakistan match in Mohali. The stunning live coverage of cricket is also a reason for the demise of other sports.

When Gopi Chand won the all-England badminton championship in Britain no one cheered or cared because in the same week Harbajan Singh took a hat-trick and V. V. S. Laxman scored 281 in the Kolkata Test against Australia.

No one remembers the Olympic bronze medals won by tennis star Leander Paes (Atlanta, 1996) and weightlifter Karnam Malleswari (Sydney, 2000), but Anil Kumble’s 10-wicket haul, Harbhajan’s hat-trick, and Virender Sehwag’s 309 will be evergreen in memory.

Players of international fame and caliber in other sports are not given the proper media support and attention as well as proper facilities for further development. Quite a lot of them are disgusted with this sort of treatment and some of them have also threatened to give up Indian citizenship to fulfill their ambitions.

Irked by the step-motherly treatment meted out to the Indian hockey players by the central and four state governments, when compared to the sops given to cricketers after their win in the Twenty20 World Cup, the team members had to take the extreme step of going on a ‘hunger strike’.

Then National Chief Coach, Joaquim Carvalho strongly objected to the announcement of cash awards by the Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and the state governments of Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Karnataka to the cricketers while ignoring the victory of his wards in the Asian Continental Championship early this month.

This is a perfectly valid argument. It may seem that the hockey players are being jealous, but the fact remains that the Government has no business giving cash gifts to players of one game, and totally ignoring the others. And that too for cricket, where neither the players nor the board require any form of support from the Government. It is other sports, suffering under abysmal conditions, without sponsorship, and with very little money (as demonstrated in the hit movie ‘Chak de India‘) that need Government support. But then who ever said that the Government made sense.

It is a shame that our country which has one-sixth of the total world population has to try hard to get even a single gold medal in the Olympics.

However to say that cricket kills other sports is like saying that Microsoft kills other IT companies! It is certainly not true. The truth is that the game of cricket has more following and is a big entertainer when compared to other sports.

To add, cricket is a very unique game wherein you have two versions, Tests and one-dayers. The one-dayers provide the thrills and so sponsors are able to market it successfully and increase the interest among their viewers. So more sponsors means more money into the game, which goes for its development. The thrill of the game and money attracts many youngsters and so many turn up for cricket coaching academies. And this in no way belittles the other games such as tennis and chess.

IS cricket killing other sports in India? It would be unfair to cite cricket as the only reason for the poor state of other sports in India. But, cricket, along with some more factors, is responsible for the present condition of other sports.

To be honest, the BCCI has done an excellent job in popularising the sport as well as treating the players who perform. Compare this with the IHF’s shocking attitude towards Dhanraj Pillay or our Government’s treatment of our only Olympic medal hope Anju Bobby George.

When hockey, football and athletics are in such a sorry state, the less said the better about other sports. If people say cricket has stopped the spread of other sports, then it has to be noted that we have several players of international class only in cricket. Naturally, cricket is popular.

For such a big nation, it is sad to note that there’s only one Abhinav Bindra or Saina Nehwal or Leander Paes. Lack of sponsors is another reason for the current trend of other sports not being able to get deserving attention.

A four-year-old kid knows Sehwag better than world chess champion V. Anand. So, it is up to the respective Boards/Federations to take a leaf out of the BCCI’s book and strengthen their respective sports.

At the end, it all boils down to a successful marketing of the game. In India cricket happens to be that successfully marketed sport! If other sports generate more interest and India has more successes in other sports certainly sponsors will queue up to support them.

The officials of other sports are unable to promote the game properly. On the other hand, the BCCI has done an excellent job. Even after the match-fixing-scandal, cricket has not lost its popularity. The BCCI should be given full credit for this. They have spread the game superbly even into the remote villages of India. That is why a child in a remote village knows the name of Sachin, but not Leander Peas.

The Corporate sector will come in only if the sports federations deal with them professionally. In the past the corporate people have had a horrible experience. This does not happen while dealing with the BCCI. Though other sports get media coverage, it is not at the level that cricket gets. I think credit should be given to the BCCI as they have worked hard in that direction. So, instead of blaming cricket, federations of other sports should promote their games professionally.

BCCI is a professionally run body which has a vision to make cricket successful, both as a sport and in monetary terms. But can we say the same about other sports bodies? The way soccer or hockey or boxing or wrestling federations are run in our country, there is no wonder that we lag so far behind. But why do we blame cricket for that? Cricket has nothing to do with these bodies. Then why blame cricket?

Cricketers have a right to live their life their way and they, and in particular cricket, can’t be blamed for the sorry state that our sports are in. According to an estimate, China spent about 4 billion dollars on its sportspersons for this Olympics. How much did we spend?

We need to ask questions.We need to pinpoint the real culprits. Only then we will produce Bindras , Sainas, Vijenders at every nook and corner of our country. And the first step in that? Stop blaming cricket.

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Nupoor Bansal


Hey, I'm Nupoor Bansal, 20, currently pursuing Journalism from DU. I have always been immensely interested in both playing and watching sports. Like most other cricket fanatics Sachin Tendulkar is THE God for me. Badminton, Tennis and Football are the other sports that interest me.


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