Sports are an important part of every modern civilisation. Sports are also a significant element of Indian culture. There is a variety of popular sports in India. We've compiled a list of 10 of India's most popular sports. The number of people that watch a sport and the amount of money the sport produces define its popularity. It is in no way a measure of a player's overall success or ability. So let’s begin on our journey to know more about the most popular sports in India!!
India is home to a wide range of interests and hobbies. Even though India has a varied population, there are a few locations that have captured the attention of a considerable portion of the population.
Sport has always succeeded in bringing a big portion of the populace together on one side of the aisle in India. There are few occasions when Indians come together as a country to support a single cause, and athletic events are among them. However, by any stretch of the imagination, popular sports in India is unequal. In terms of sheer popularity and following, certain sports far outnumber others, while others struggle to get traction.
Cricket is, without a doubt, one of India's most popular sports. Cricket, as the adage goes, may be referred to as the country's religion due to the sheer passion and popularity it manages to produce.
So, here is a list of India's most popular sports. Before we get into the list, it's important to note that these popular sports in India were rated solely based on their popularity in India. Any sport's position on the list is not indicative of India's overall success.
Top 10 Popular Sports In India
Cricket is the most popular sport in India and the most played game in India. Cricket's popularity in India is unrivalled compared to the amount of attention it generates in any other country. In terms of football passion, Brazil and Argentina are close, but the sheer number of cricket fans in India tilts the scale eastwards.
There are several explanations for cricket's continued appeal. Apart from elite sporting networks broadcasting and promoting cricket matches regularly, India's cricket performance significantly impacts the sport's continued popularity.
From the 1983 World Cup until the 2013 Champions Trophy, India has been a constant contender for the highest reward in international cricket. With the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni, and others, this period has produced some of the best players in India, and the world have ever seen.
The massive endorsement agreements that cricketers manage to secure regularly contribute to the popularity of cricket and cricketers.
Cricketers are among the most admired people in a culture obsessed with celebrity and exclusivity.
With Virat Kohli leading a new generation of cricketers, the current crop of Indian players has a bright future ahead of them. The most popular sport in India is expected to be cricket for the foreseeable future, considering the regular inflow of talent with every passing generation. Given the steady intake of talent with each passing generation, cricket is anticipated to remain India's most popular sport for the foreseeable future.
Hockey, India's national sport, is still attempting to reclaim its glory days when it took home gold medals from every Olympic Games. India dominated the hockey world with over eight Olympic gold medals, led by Dhyan Chand.
The new rules, which included the installation of an artificial playing surface, proved to be a stumbling block for Indian players who were accustomed to playing on natural grass surfaces. To make matters worse, the hockey federation's constant infighting resulted in the slow collapse of Indian hockey as other nations such as Australia, the Netherlands, and Germany came up to India's dominance.
Since then, hockey has been on the decrease. While there are blips when the hockey landscape appears to be reviving, the sport's massive systemic difficulties always seem to drag it down.
Like many other popular sports in India, Hockey has its league based on the IPL model. The Hockey India League (HIL) was founded in 2013 to increase hockey's popularity among the general population.
Football, the most popular sport on the planet, is a mystery in India. Football is predominantly a spectator sport in India, dubbed the "sleeping giant" of the footballing world by former FIFA president Sepp Blatter. While the ISL has a sizable fan base in India, it is the massive following of European club championships that is the source of football's appeal in the country.
Currently, India's football team is ranked 105th in the world. Given India's population and the demographics of some of the other nations that have qualified for the World Cup in recent years, failing to qualify even once might be considered a massive professional and institutional failure.
The large following of European football in India's major areas continues to fuel the popularity of the sport. The Premier League is one of India's most popular sports leagues. Many famous European teams, like Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea, have specialised fan organisations connected with fans worldwide to promote a football culture in the subcontinent, particularly in India.
These initiatives by European football governing bodies have resulted in a generation of young Indians who watch and support elite clubs in England, Spain, Germany, and Italy.
India currently has its football league, the Indian Soccer League, following in European clubs’ footsteps (ISL). During its debut season in 2014, the competition drew approximately 160 million viewers.
While several sports in India, such as badminton and hockey, would have taken third place a few years ago, kabaddi has reclaimed its place as the most popular sport in the country.
With the unexpected development of the Pro-Kabaddi League, which is conducted yearly in several locations across India, kabaddi has returned to the mainstream among traditional Indian sports. The PKL became India's second most popular league in 2014, after only the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Kabaddi is well-positioned to boost audiences in rural regions due to its clear appeal and developing new viewers who are steadily learning more about the sport, having created a strong viewer base and a group of interested sponsors.
At present, India and Iran are the world's two best kabaddi players. Until 2017, India has won all of the Kabaddi World Cups.
Though badminton has long been a popular sport among the general population, it has had less success on the international scene.
This pattern has shifted as a new generation of Indian players has established themselves and their country on the world scene. After distinguishing herself in numerous competitions, Saina Nehwal won a bronze medal at the London Olympics in 2012, cementing her place in history.
PV Sindhu, Nehwal's younger rival, eclipsed Nehwal's feat. In 2016, the latter earned a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. Other shutters who have brought him major honours include Srikant, Ashwini Ponnappa, and yesteryear giants Prakash Padukone and Pulella Gopichand, in addition to Olympic gold.
The Badminton Association of India (BAI) supervised the establishment of the Premier Badminton League in 2013 in response to the growth of Indian stars on the world scene. Due to its fast-paced nature and the involvement of top-rated Indian players, the league attracted a sizable audience.
Expect Indian badminton players to make a strong challenge for the top prize in the next Olympics, held in two years.
Tennis is one of the most popular sports globally, and it has a large fan base in India. Though we haven't seen a lot of success on the singles circuit, India has a long history of producing top-notch doubles players. Together, Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi have won a lot of Grand Slam doubles titles.
On the other hand, India's reliance on these two legends is already becoming apparent. With Bhupathi retiring a few years ago and Paes getting older with each passing season, the Indian tennis landscape desperately needs experienced players. Somdev Devvarman departed a few months ago, leaving Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza as India's only two seasoned pros on the ATP tour.
Mahesh Bhupathi founded the International Premier Tennis League in 2014 to enhance tennis viewership in India. The IPTL was inspired by the success of the IPL in India and the World Team Tennis in the 1970s. It consists of four teams from four Asian countries: the Indian Aces, Japan Warriors, Singapore Slammers, and UAE Royals.
The league was only a mediocre success since it relied on tennis players like Roger Federer and Pete Sampras for viewership. The Singapore Slammers are the league's most successful team, having won the championship twice.
Wrestling, like kabaddi, has a strong undercurrent in rural India. India has won a lot of medals in various wrestling events.
The akhadda-style sport is connected with wrestling with Indians. Although professional wrestling differs significantly from traditional Indian wrestling, the sport's basics remain the same.
Indian grapplers have made a major mark on the world scene in recent years, winning at least one medal at every Olympic Games since the 2008 Beijing Games. Sushil Kumar is a two-time Olympic medalist and one of India's most successful Olympians. Sushil isn't alone; a large number of grapplers have competed in international events and won gold.
With the success of big office smashes like Sultan and Dangal, wrestling has grown even more popular.
The latter was inspired by the true tale of women's wrestler Geeta Phogat, who won a gold medal in a big international competition.
These kinds of films are critical in teaching the general audience about sports they are unaware of. Though overtaking cricket's popularity may seem unlikely, developing a sports culture in the country is critical for future success in big competitions.
Most young Indians will associate boxing with WWE as a childhood memory.
Boxing is a professional sport that is considerably different from WWE and other combat-based performances. After Vijender Singh won a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the sport gained popularity in India.
With the emergence of a core group of skilled boxers bearing India's banner, boxing has been a source of numerous medals on the world scene. MC Mary Kom, a women's boxer, earned a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics against all odds.
Another thing to remember about boxing is that the Olympic-approved version of the sport is referred to as amateur boxing.
Professional boxing pits boxers against each other rather than the country as a whole.
When Vijender Singh began his professional boxing career in 2015, he also went pro. Vijender has contested nine fights since he began his career and has won all of them. In the process, he also won the Asia-Pacific championship, a feat that has propelled him to the top ten in the world of professional boxing.
Motorsports have always piqued the curiosity of Indian sports enthusiasts, which has grown significantly over time. The mania around Formula One, the world's largest racing spectacle, has been the primary driver of this development.
When driver Narain Karthikeyan was hired by the Jordan Formula One team in 2005, he became the first Indian to ever race in the event, which piqued the curiosity of the Indian audience. Though Narain never finished on the podium during his tenure at Jordan, a large part of that was due to the lower quality of the vehicle he was driving compared to the other top teams.
When Karun Chandhok joined HRT Formula One in 2011, he became the second-ever Indian driver to race in Formula One. The reserve driver replaced him after a string of bad performances. India has its own Formula One team, Force India, in addition to drivers. The squad had a fantastic year in 2017, finishing fourth and scoring 187 points for the first time.
Apart from Formula One, India also boasts a Moto GP squad in the shape of Mahindra Racing. Gaurav Gill, a rally driver, is another representation of the country in motorsports. Gill is well known for his rally racing. He was the first Indian to win the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship in 2013.
Basketball has long played an important role in Indian culture. It's surprising to watch Indian basketball players on the world stage when one of the most popular sports is performed daily in schools and universities.
India has seen some success in the basketball world during the last several years. In Division A, the Indian Women's Basketball Team qualified for the FIBA Women's Asia Cup. This is the first time that an Indian basketball team has achieved such a feat on a global scale.
Satnam Singh Bhamara became the first Indian player to be picked by an NBA franchise when the Dallas Mavericks selected him in 2015. He was selected in the NBA draught in the 52nd round. He was not only the first Indian to play in the NBA, but he was also the first player to be picked while still in high school.
The Importance Of Sports In India
In a society replete with complexity and depth, sports in India provide a refreshingly simple and thrilling experience. Every Indian, whether a cricket, football or other sports lover, looks forward to the opportunity to see an unadulterated and genuine spectacle.
Sports are important in the same way that movies, art, and theatre are important. Sports professionals act as role models for young Indians, in addition to being spectator sports for the general public. This is one of India's most significant contributions to the athletic world.
Indian sports icons have acted as a huge inspiration to many Indians in a country that has lacked individuals that are respected and embraced across the country since independence. Sportsmen and sportswomen have offered unadulterated delight to a nation otherwise consumed by the hustle and bustle of ascending the socio-economic ladder, from Sachin Tendulkar and Dhyan Chand to Saina Nehwal and Sushil Kumar.
Learning a sport instils a good amount of self-discipline in children from an early age and inspires Indians. Children learn the importance of teamwork, hard effort, planning, and practice in addition to the attribute.
One of the main reasons why sports should be emphasised in schools and colleges is because of this. Sport remains a luxury at best in the present system, primarily concentrated on theoretical academics. If we want to win gold at future Olympics, we must first instil a sports culture in schools at the elementary level.
These are just a few of the sports that Indians like watching and playing. We adore our sports, and any opportunity to participate in them is always welcomed. Take the time to learn about the sports available in your region. You might be shocked to discover some of the fantastic games taking place just in your neighbourhood.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most popular sport in India?
The country has hosted and won the Cricket World Cup on several occasions. In India, cricket is the most popular sport. In addition, the Indian men's team has won thirteen Olympic medals in field hockey, including eight Olympic gold medals.
Which state is best in sports in India?
Haryana is one of the best sporting states in the country. In sports like kho-kho, judo, kabaddi, boxing, and wrestling, Haryana is renowned as a traditional powerhouse. Haryana has remained at the top of the sports success list over the past decade.
Which is the second most popular sport in India?
In comparison to the past, India now has a larger number of badminton players. In terms of popularity, it is just second to cricket. In addition, its appeal on television has grown.
Which is the most played game in India?
India has won and hosted the Cricket World Cup on several occasions. Cricket is India's most popular sport. Indian field hockey has been the country's most successful Olympic sport, with the men's team winning eight gold medals.
Which is India’s national sport?
Field Hockey is considered the national sport of India, but officially it is not declared.