If the first thing which comes to your mind after hearing the word sports, is cricket, you are probably the citizen of the largest democracy of the world. However, if it didn’t, it does not guarantee an anti-national certificate to your name. Here is a bitter truth for a few people to swallow. If you are born in India, it does not mean the only game you can ever devote your fan hours to is cricket. India is home to a gazillion character-building sports including Chess, Polo, the martial arts of Judo and Karate along with the leisure time games of snakes and ladders and cards. However, with the coming of ages from the era of pocket transistors to OLEDs, certain sports got lost in their own race to eternity.
You probably know the name of the Indian Men Cricket Team captain. Quiz yourself in trying to answer the name of Indian Men Hockey Team captain. If you get the lucky breakthrough, you probably appreciate the era of finest field play of one of the legends of Indian Hockey, Dhyan Chand. The world knows the struggles of MS Dhoni, coming through the ranks to become one of the finest cricketers in the world, however, the struggles of the Flicker Singh were hardly pondered about. Over the years, cricket has found its roots settling deep in the hearts of every newbie in the country. The IPL stages have made sure the game dwells in the heart of every Indian each year.
The road to eternity for cricket has been paved by the likes of players like the Gavaskars, the Tendulkars or the Kohlis. However, for other games, it has been a tough journey. It is harsh but true that cricket fever has overshadowed other sports.
The proudest moments for the country were when PV Sindhu broke into the Olympic Finals 2016 or when Gagan Narang won four Gold medals in Common Wealth Games 2010, or the Champion wrestler Sushil Kumar won gold medal in FILA 2010 World Wrestling Championships or Olympic bronze medals won by tennis star Leander Paes (Atlanta, 1996). We rejoiced their victories for a day and by the end of the night, it was all but just a news. However, here is something we all specifically remember, Anil Kumble’s 10-wicket haul, Harbhajan’s hat-trick, and Virender Sehwag’s 309.
The thing you probably recall, as your first outdoor game was a game of cricket or simply bat-ball, with your father at your home backyard. It is indeed a very common sight of young children playing cricket across every lanes, streets, garden of India. A budding sports kid holding the bat as almost as his height, in his all innocence and nonchalant tone express he would want to be a “Tendulkar” someday. Unaware of any how’s and what’s of the world, these children hardly get along with the rules of the game when they claim such aspirations. The brand of cricket has surpassed its stature every year, rising exponentially, to a certain stage, where we cannot play any blame games because society leads to the situation. These kids have no idea about the existence of the greats of other sports apart from cricket.
An obstacle to the progress of other sports apart from cricket in India is the important stature of the game received by the media. Television, commercialization and the advertising world have had cricket stars advertising their products day in day out. An India – Pakistan cricket match can be worth a national debate, however, it’s just a flash line for the final scoreline for a hockey match. Equal exposure does not exist for all sports in the country. Every budding talent is nurtured with publics love and support, but that’s only for cricketers. If you are a newbie in any other game, you have to prove your mettle on your own first. If you are lucky enough, people will start appreciating your hard work.
The next big obstacle is funding. Emerging players in sports like shooting, lifting, hockey etc. fail to continue their journey from passion to the national colours due to lack of governmental aid. However, the irony is, the committee for cricket in India, BCCI, is the richest cricketing body in the world. The scarcity of stadiums, playgrounds and poor sports system in schools colleges also pull down the interest of people in other sports.
The huge crowds in any cricket stadium in any part of the world for an India-Pakistan match, explains the one-day patriotism and love for the country. Faces painted and vocal cords screaming at their top, boosting the morale of their country but this “morale-boosting brigade” disappears when certain other sportsmen representing the same tricolour play against the players representing the same opposition flag.
The country is a birthplace to certain legends like Sania Mirza, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati bringing laurels to the country in the field of tennis; a certain Vishwanathan Anand in the field of chess. We have witnessed the services of the greats like Balbir Singh, Pargat Singh, Surjit Singh, Ashok Kumar, Ajit Pal Singh, who won the Hockey cup in 1975. The amount of sweating and dedication they put in the practice are very much like the cricketers. Every player who plays for his country wants to bring pride and glory to our country. Its high time other games like chess, tennis, and hockey get the true status they are craving for.
Cricket is celebrated as a festival in our country and I don’t want to implant the ideas to destroy the root cause for the real happiness for a billion of us for as long as it lasts. Games have been used as a bridge between two nations. Sports meet has always helped us make great relationships with our neighbours. The need of the hour is to get the country’s politics to get active along with the less recognized sports. Players, sweating their efforts out on the field, should be recognized with a calibre of international fame. This only happens if we start respecting them at home. Proper media support and attention, as well as proper facilities for further development, could serve as the cherry on the top.
The country is going through a phase where the Indian Football team captain literally has to plead to find a good fan base. The country is still struggling hard to form a good football team. The Hockey team performed out of their skins to score the rankers spot in the Champions trophy, however losing the final to Australia. These sports have died a natural death from lack of leadership and sponsorship. If the efforts of the cricket team are lauded, these sportsmen deserve the same respect and dignity.