As kids, when we were taught about our nation, Hockey was always referred to as the national sport of India. It was to the point that in any general knowledge exam paper when they asked ‘which is the national sport of India’, Hockey was the obvious answer. But the fact is hockey is NOT the national sport of India. The government of India never announced this and in the year 2012, they denied India having any national sport. Then why are people confused?
If you think that Hockey was called the National Sport because of its origins tracing back to India that you are wrong. This game was actually played in various cultures thousands of years ago. The traces were found in Egypt and Ireland years before Indians even picked a hockey stick. So clearly this can’t be the reason.
People assume or even ‘unofficially’ declaration Hockey as India’s National Sport lies in the Indian hockey’s success at the Olympics. India’s first appearance in the Olympics was at the 1900 Games but under the British rule. Norman Pritchard, a sprint runner, won two silver medals at the Games but Indians simply don’t consider it as the Indian gold medal as he had to compete with the Union Jack flag on his chest.
Olympics were definitely the largest sporting event that everyone expected India to do well in but unfortunately, India had a series of horrible spells at the Olympics. And those were the times when the Indian Cricket Team was nowhere near what it is today. The condition of all the sports in our country was simply miserable – Except Field Hockey.
If you have your grandparents who followed sports in those times, then you will know how big was Indian hockey. The team was unbeatable. Major Dhyan Chand was one of the biggest reasons for the team’s success and gave it the deserved spotlight. Other than hockey, there was no sport that gave Indians hope of success.
Cricket could present its case now but it was only the 21st century that cricket had shown its strength and gained popularity. But hockey was the one that put India’s name on the spotting nations around the world. Hence people often confuse hockey as the national sport of India.
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