Cricket frenzy India has been evolving in terms of sports following in recent times. People are now looking into other sports as well. This has been a radical but a pleasant change for Indian Sports.
There were times in the past were Cricket was the only sport played and followed in India. It was followed almost like another religion. It was really hard to find an Indian who did not like / know about Cricket (May be it stays that way even now!). Cricket has been a common mans game which has been played on every gully or streets of India. It was quite common to see people of all ages come together to be a part of a Cricket match. India used to always get united when there was a Cricket match around.
To add to this entire following, media went ho-hum if it got to hear anything to do with Cricket. Cricket news used to make big-time headlines and if India was doing well, we could find news about this all over the daily newspapers. If it was an Indo-Pak match the stakes used to catapult many times over. And if India did win their matches against Pakistan, media used to cover it as though they dint have any other news to write / talk about. Almost every page in the newspapers used to have something to with the game. Player stats, match stats, upcoming events, fantasy games to name a few. Every person used to have an opinion about their stars – how they fared, what they could have done better, does he have a future, etc.
All this was good in a way. But the negative side to this was that other sport in India used to take a backseat. There was a broad array of talent in all other sport in India which never used to get a platform to kick off. It was never easy for a sports person to get a simple sponsorship support them to keep their talents alive – all because they were not into Cricket.
There had been tremendous achievements in other sport as well. But it used to always go unnoticed. Karnam Malleswari won the Weight Lifting Bronze Medal in Olympics; Pullela Gopichand won the All England open in 2001. I am sure more than half the population of India never got to know about this when it happened. I am sure it is not hard to find people who still don’t know these names. On the other hand if India had won against even a weak team like Bangladesh it would have got unprecedented media coverage.
All this is changing for good now. In recent times sport viewers are considering about following other sport as well. Now it is really nice to find people ready to sponsor talents like Narain Karthikeyan, Sania Mirza, Rathore, etc. Slowly we can see sports like football, tennis, badminton replacing cricket in every gully or street. All this may have been helped by:
- India not doing that well in Cricket in recent past
- Talents like Narain Karthikeyan, Sania Mirza doing well on international circuits
- Big events like FIFA 2006, F1, ATP tours getting lot better media coverage
Nowadays I find:
- Pubs going absolutely full when there is a F1 race going on
- Children who used to take to the streets playing cricket now find it interesting to play Football (Next time you find a group of children playing football near your street, make it a point to observe them. I am sure you will be amazed at all the talent there.)
- More people wearing football jerseys rather than the common Indian Cricketing Blue
- People making it a point to watch important ATP tour matches
- Many fantasy game online for other sport as well
Hope this change in trend continues and we get to see lot more deserving talents come into limelight.