Is Hockey to India now similar to What Orkut is to Kids of Today?

three hockey players on focus photography

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Every country adopts a game as a national-sport based on its popularity or based on some historical connect. Another factor could be that the game itself has a long-standing rich legacy. The most obvious reason for designating a sport as a national sport is its association of pride that it evokes in the hearts of the countrymen. 

For instance-
National Sport in the USA is Baseball, 
National Sport in Bangladesh is Kabbadi, 
England adopted Cricket as National Sport (No Surprise)
Australia too adopted Cricket as their national game.

The above pattern clearly states that each nation adopted a sport that has a historical connect or rich legacy. So did India have a historical connection?... Definitely not as the game was introduced to us by the Britishers. Just like cricket was invented in a foreign country but later dominated by us; we started dominating Hockey. We saw it as a rich legacy? Possibly yes. 

India's Golden Era started in 1928, in their very first Field Hockey appearance at the Olympic Games. India won the Gold medal, defeating the hosts Netherlands 3-0 in the final. The legend himself, Major Dhyan Chand scored a hat-trick in the final. The Indian field hockey team was unbeatable for decades. Nations like the USA, Great Britain and Germany could not defeat India. Indian hockey team remained unbeaten from 1928 to 1956 in the Olympic Games. India never came back empty-handed; winning silver in 1960 and two consecutive bronze medals in 1964 and 1968. Clinching Gold Medal in 1980 became the last triumph in our golden history. 

Following are the reasons which pulverized Hockey

  1. In the last 40 years (after 1980) Indian hockey team is on a downslide. India has not even made to the semi-finals; on top of it, it did not even qualify for the 2008 Olympics and finished at the bottom in 2012. Fans and the audience support you when you are losing, but for how many years? Especially when you are down and out in the meantime, Cricket took its turn which never looked down. 
  1. The Growth of Cricket and people's disinterest in Field Hockey is one of the many reasons behind the fall of formerly the most prominent game in India. Cricket is much popular in India because big money is involved. The fan-fare, brand endorsements, and most important the prize money started to flow in Cricket, making it easier for the younger generations to choose the sport of their interest. 
  1. Cricket became more and more popular because that was the game where we performed with some consistency. The 1983 shocking win and Sachin Tendulkar changing the whole dynamics of the sport, not only made people fall in love but also go crazy for it. After that, the 2007 WorldT20 win, 2011 World Cup win and the introduction of IPL left no room for competition for any other sport in the country. 
  1. Many people think that cricket is the improvised version of 'Gilli-Danda' and that love for their desi game followed in cricket. Indians love to follow the popular, trending thing, the most glamorous stuff; Cricket is not away from this. That's why rich bodies, businessmen, and sponsored advertisements felt safe in investing in Cricket. 
  1. Hockey could not get the attention of media as Cricket did and on the other hand matches of hockey are not frequently played at the national or international level as we have in cricket (excluding Hockey India League and Hockey Pro League).  
  1. The government and Hockey federation's casual approach also led to the downfall of the sport. Unlike cricket, a proper domestic structure was never built for Hockey. Indians were used to playing on grass fields, which made things difficult for them after the introduction of Astroturf at the 1976 Olympics. The government bodies were reluctant to spend money on building these turfs and it took Indian players years to adapt to this change in the sport.  
  1. Another reason for the popularity of cricket in India is that it's easy to play, you can play it anywhere. The sport can be played anywhere on the ground, roads, streets, backyard, etc. Even if you have a bat, ball and a wall you can play cricket with yourself. On the other hand, in hockey you need a leveled ground, you need sticks if you are alone or you cannot play. You need a minimum number of players.
  1. There is freedom of hitting the ball as far as you can which excites people. But in Hockey, it's a difficult task to hit the ball just inside a net for the goal. In India, most people play cricket while growing up, as stated above the investment in cricket is just a vacant place, a bat, a ball, and three wickets. On the other hand, people from cities have not even seen Hockey grounds in their whole life. 
  1. Hockey is an honorable sport that every common man cannot afford, the investment in it is quite high and the return of that is quite slow and low in today's time too. Also, the lack of proper infrastructure has created a big hole which is not easy to fill. 
  1. What if you come to know that one thing which you patriotically believed was a LIE. We all have learned through our textbooks that Hockey is our National Game, Right? Guess what, it is not...
 This big revelation has come straight from the Union Ministry of Youth affairs itself. The ministry made this statement in response to the RTI query from a 10-year girl, Aishwariya Parashar (In 2012). 

"I wanted to know when the government issued an order to announce the country's national game," Aishwariya told TOI. The ministry further stated that country does not have a national game as no game has been notified as such. 

To conclude I can only derive that by watching our Golden Era of 1928 to 1956, everyone assumed that Hockey is our National Game and no one objected to it. As we once saw how Orkut was popular, but this new generation did not even hear this name, and all are crazy about Facebook. A similar situation occurred in Hockey too.   

Written By Soham Upadhye

Edited by - Bushra Makhdoomi

Is Hockey to India now similar to What Orkut is to Kids of Today? Is Hockey to India now similar to What Orkut is to Kids of Today? Reviewed by Bushra M on May 02, 2020 Rating: 5

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