India is one of the largest countries in the world, both in terms of population and size. Naturally, a country as large and diverse as India should be well known for sporting activities. This post will cover some of the most popular sport in India.
Before writing on some of most popular sport in India, it is worthy to note that being colonized by Britain must have some considerable influence on India’s sporting activities. India has a great tradition of sports and some indigenous game has retained its popularity throughout the century. Some of these indigenous games are Gilli-danda, kabaddi, pehlwani, and kho.
India also has a few board games, most famous of which is the chaturanga, believed to be the origin of modern chess; this is further reinforced with the rise of many chess grandmasters from the country.
Top 5 Most Popular Sport in India
It is worthy to note that the sport listed in this article does not measure India’s performance at the international level. These sports are assessed based on their popularity in India. A simple search on Google or any search engine will identify Cricket as the most popular sport in India. This post will cover other popular sports in India, including Cricket.
As said, Cricket is the most popular sport in India and has dominated the India sports headline for years. It is speculated that the sport’s popularity in India is based on India’s performance in Cricket. For instance, India has won two Cricket World Cups, the first one back in 1983 and the latter in 2011. Another reason behind Cricket’s sustained popularity is that cricket matches are being regularly telecasted and promoted by premier sporting channels.
Some of the best Indian cricketers recognized globally are Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni, and so on. These cricketers are known for their outstanding performance and land mega endorsement deals regularly.
Football is the most popular sport in the world and remains quite popular in India. India has progressed from formerly called the ‘sleeping giant’ of the footballing world by former FIFA president Sepp Blatter to its football team, ranking 105 globally.
The popularity of Football in India remains stoked by the sizable following of European Football in the country’s urban centers. The Premier League is one of the most-watched sports leagues in India. To encourage a culture of Football in the subcontinent and India in particular, many top European clubs such as Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea have dedicated fan groups in which are connected with supporters across the world.
These efforts made by European footballing bodies have created a whole generation of young Indians who follow and support top clubs based in England, Spain, Germany, and Italy.
Badminton might not be regarded as a popular sport globally, but it is a powerhouse in India. Some Indians Badminton players have succeeded in creating a name for themselves. Saina Nehwal’s name is etched in history books at the London Olympics in 2012 by picking up a bronze medal.
PV Sindhu won a silver medal in the Rio Games in 2016. Besides picking up medals at the Olympics, other shutters have brought him top honors such as K Srikant, Jwala Gutta, Ashwini Ponnappa, and yesteryear legends in Prakash Padukone and Pulella Gopichand.
Before the popularization of Cricket in India, Hockey was the most popular sport in India and at some point regraded at India’s national sport. Currently, Hockey is still trying to find a way back to the golden years when it brought back gold medals from every passing Olympic Games.
Some factors that contributed to the decline of Hockey in India are the change of rules in the game and incessant fighting in the Indian Hockey Federation. However, Indian Hockey Team is still trying to revive the golden period it enjoyed in the previous century
Wrestling is another sport that is quite popular in India. The sport has a striking undercurrent of rural India to it. Wrestling has brought India several medals from many major tournaments.
Wrestling with Indians is synonymous with the akhadda-style sport. Though professional Wrestling differs significantly from Wrestling’s traditional Indian style, the fundamentals of the sport remain the same.
Indian grapplers have recently made a strong impression on the international stage with at least a medal at every Olympics since the 2008 Beijing Games. Sushil Kumar, one of India’s most successful Olympians, is a two-time Olympic medalist. Sushil is not the only one with a sizable number of grapplers having won medals at international tournaments.
Wrestling has gained even more popularity with the success of box-office hits like Sultan and Dangal.
National Sport of India
There is a general misconception that Hockey is the National Sport in India. What must have fueled this misconception? It might be because Hockey was the one sport which dominated in India within the pre-independence era. India was an unstoppable force in Hockey, and their 8 gold medals at the Olympic Games is a testament to that. As enumerated in this post, Hockey started to dwindle.
But the early success of the sport in India had ensured that people saw it as a symbol. India does not have an official national sport.
What Is the Most Popular Sport in India?
Cricket is by far the most popular sport in India.