Cricket has been India’s most revered sport for the past few decades. Despite not being the national sport, this game with a bat and a ball played on a pitch of 22 yards enjoys mass following and has become a devotion, adoration for Indians. The players playing cricket are considered no less than Lords and prayers are offered before every significant match or tournament. However, in recent times, Millenials have witnessed a shift in sports religion and inclination towards the “Godly” cricket and has now moved on to other sports like kabaddi, football and the like, all thanks to the emergence of various sports leagues. Kabaddi has broken all records in the sports business with the incipience of Star India’s Pro Kabaddi League’s (PKL). The aids and fan base has increased immensely which has allowed this sport to outnumber Football and bag the second rank in our country. Before Pro Kabaddi League, its charm was confined largely to rural parts of the country. Pro Kabaddi League triumphantly managed to bring it to Tier III and Tier II cities.
However, despite all of its accomplishments, cricket can’t be called India’s own sport a tag which is synonymous with kabaddi. This sport was invented by India 4000 years ago and has been played by the nation for ages. The Indian National Kabaddi team has smoothly rolled through in all the competitions, winning all the international tournaments that one offered, but it still witnessed the indifference by Indians. But, with the inception of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi League, we have seen a massive boost in the viewership and reputation of the sport. Kabaddi players now have become household names and kids have begun to play the sport in the streets and lanes which earlier was all about hosting cricket matches after school.
In addition to that, when we talk about winning tournaments, In the 11 Cricket World Cups played till date, India has only won 2 matches i.e. 1983 and 2011. This is undoubtedly a commendable achievement, but compared to India’s dominance in the sport of Kabaddi, the country’s achievements in the game between the bat and ball look minuscule. The unstoppable Indian Kabaddi players have not been beaten in any major competition in the sport’s recent history. India has won all the World Cups held in all formats of the sport while winning gold medals in all 7 Asian Games men’s kabaddi event apart from winning both the gold medals on offer in women’s kabaddi at the same event. These are notably worthy accomplishments for an Indian and is one of the chief reasons why kabaddi is all set to rival cricket for popularity in the sub-continent. Same is the case in women’s kabaddi, India has won both World Cups since 2012. Women’s kabaddi was incorporated in the Asian Games in 2010 and India has won the only edition so far.
The attention span of viewers is a debatable topic and games with long format do tend to lose the attention and interest by the game viewers. That is why kabaddi with its short playing time keeps the spectators glued to it and is also responsible for its nail-biting experience throughout the 40 minutes of the match. It offers just the right mixture of energy, strength, and agility in this fast-paced era. The short and thrilling nature of the sport has already pushed it higher on the popularity charts in the urban centers.
Kabaddi has and will have a major impact as the audience become more open to other sports. By finishing top of all the World Cups, Asian Games, and other international tournaments, India has been quite predominant and once the crowd is made aware of the same, it won’t be long before kabaddi becomes the chief sport of the second-most populous country in the world. While there are still peaks and seas for it to cross to reach where cricket is in the 21st century India, with Pro Kabaddi League, it surely has embedded itself in the right direction. All in all, for anyone who has seen the speedy rise of the sport in these past five-six years, they have every reason to gather that sky is not the limit for Kabaddi and it’s only a matter of time before it makes Cricket, come down from top of the ladder and make its presence felt.