Every once in a while we engage in self-flagellation about how India is a one sports nation. How cricket is the only sports India is crazy about. How, India is neglecting other sports. This debate has again resurrected itself, after release of the movie Mary Kom, starring Priyanka Chopra.
May be this charge is true to some extent. It is important to understand, that we are too many, we are too poor, our resources are too few. For most of us, immediate concern is to find a job after education. Parents must be convinced that by joining a sports their kid is improving his earning potential. That is exactly what is happening in cricket.
I think of all Indian sports, cricket is better managed and better marketed. Cricket has been able to harness talent from all across India. Cricket players have three level contracts with cricket board. This guarantees them a regular income. With the advent of IPL, many lesser known yet talented players have got opportunity to earn good money while playing with international players, and being coached by successful coaches from across the globe.
Indian football and Indian hockey could not model themselves in the same way as cricket. Given the short duration of these games, both football and hockey had the potential to become as popular as cricket. Provided these sports were managed and marketed better and players and/teams had done well at national and international levels. Indian hockey now has a premiere league where international players play. A similar league is coming for football. Now it is upto players to pickup their game and show their mettle in global stage.
Less popular and more individual centric sports like badminton and wresting have found sponsors. Saina Nehwal, Jwala Gutta, Sushil Kumar are a few high profile players have found sponsors and big contracts. A badminton tournament, in the fashion of IPL, has come up. Tennis players are not doing badly either. Even though we do not stand anywhere in ATP ranking among singles players, our players have done well in doubles and mixed doubles. Point being once a player does well in his sports, money will come. No one is biased against one sport over other.
I do not think India is cricket loving or cricket crazy nation. We do not really applaud good cricket. We applaud India winning a cricket match, and we are crazy about it. We see so much second rate things all around us, when we find a team in cricket that can beat the best in the world, we love it. Give us something to cheer in other sports, we shall go out there and take the roof down.
Tags: Badminton, Cricket, Football, Hockey, IPL, Jwala Gutta, Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal, Sports, Sushil Kumar, Tennis, Wrestling,