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Sports in India: Is It Changing, And How Are People Taking Part?

As the world shifts, and Indians start to make a bigger name for themselves in different areas, it stands to ask what sports people are taking part in in the country, and also which are the most popular among spectators. Are the tendencies shifting, or are they remaining the same?

Let’s take a closer look. Some of the facts might surprise you.

Cricket is still most popular

Even as India rises in the rankings in Olympic sports and even football, cricket remains the most popular sport in the country for kids to get involved in. Kids usually start playing at the age of five, as this is considered the optimal age for learning the basics and assessing whether or not they have the ability to rise up in the rankings.

Cricket is well enough established in the country that there is a whole official and physical setup for moving up through the ranks throughout the country. There is a junior league, for ages 9-18. During the junior league period, scouts come around to assess players and try to determine who has the ability to make it to the national team. Once chosen, a player has two years to prove his worth, and then officials make the decision whether to keep him or replace him with someone else.

Field hockey is also big

Perhaps the second most popular sport in the country is field hockey. Although often overshadowed in the press by cricket, it is a fact that India dominated this sport for decades during the mid-1900s. It started to slip in the international rankings to some extent during the 1980s, but it remains very popular nonetheless. And last year, the Indian men’s team qualified for a World Cup for the first time since the 80s.

In this sport, too, kids start at a very young age, and fewer and fewer are able to move up the ladder with each successive stage. Competition is fierce, and the risk of injury is high, so only the toughest players are able to make it through to the professional levels.

What of national viewership?

Naturally, cricket is not only the most popular sport among players in India but also the most widely watched. The Indian Premier League, one of the International Cricket Council’s most prestigious tournaments, attracted over 500 million viewers in 2023. This is more than practically any other sporting event in the world.

So the most-watched sport in the country is pretty obvious. What is less obvious are the ones that follow. The second most watched sport in the country is actually football. Although India has never actually made it to a World Cup, viewership is extremely high, and Indians love to gather in pubs or other public spaces to watch international football tournaments.

The third-most watched sport in the country is one of India’s own, kabaddi. This is a sport that has only made its way to Bangladesh and Pakistan, but nonetheless remains extremely popular in this part of the world. Whether it will eventually spread to other regions through the Indian diaspora or some other means is yet to be seen.

Betting is becoming popular
Another tendency that is starting to increase among Indians is betting on sports. Thanks to the widespread availability of online betting sites, people can now get online easily and put their money on their favorite teams or players.
You can find the best sports betting app without difficulty and try your luck with it. And who knows, you might just come out winning big. And because an increasing number of sites are now accepting cryptocurrency or other forms of payments that cross national boundaries, it is easier to get on from anywhere.

The future may see new trends yet
The future may just produce new Indian superstars in different sports. Sometimes all it takes is one star athlete to make a mark with his sport and start a trend that will affect the entire nation. So India’s future athletes could be cricketers, field hockey stars, or something entirely different. They could come from the Olympics, a World Cup, or somewhere else completely. What is sure is that they will make their country proud.

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