India is a cricket-loving nation where the top three sports are T-20 cricket, 1-day cricket and Test Match Cricket! Cricket is an obsession for millions of Indians all over the world. The game of cricket has changed to accommodate the younger demographics who prefer faster pace in the game with the advent of T-20 cricket.
India also has had sports like Kabaddi (the national sport), Badminton, Tennis, Basketball and Soccer (popular as football in India) etc. Till recently none of these have been able to catch the imagination of the youth. However, it seems like there is some momentum and resources behind basketball and soccer. The big money however seems to be on Soccer given the efforts of IMG & Reliance towards creating IPL like Soccer leagues. I believe given the youth demographics and proliferation of TV and internet along with the familiarity of global brands (Nike, Adidas etc.) in the country, India is all ready for another major sport. The question is which one will it be i.e. Soccer or Basketball?
I believe the success of cricket in India has a lot to do with the fact that it is a simple game and is not expensive to play i.e. you see young people in small towns and villages playing the game with ease. Also, land is a very precious commodity in India and it remains a fact for big cities, small towns and villages. As we know Soccer needs space whereas basketball only needs a ball and a hoop i.e. it’s an affordable sport for everyone. The pace in basketball is also very fast which goes well with the younger demographics in India.
The NBA has slowly started marketing Basketball in the country by sending star players like Chris Bosh and others. They are following a tried and tested approach that worked for them in China. The NBA started basketball in China a while back (about 3 decades back) and the league capitalized on the game’s growing popularity by setting up Basketball Associations. Players like Yao Ming dramatically increased public interest in the game in China. I feel that all India needs now is its own Yao Ming for the sport to take off!
Which sport do you think will be the #4 sport in India— Soccer or Basketball?
Your thoughts are welcome.