It may come as a surprise, but did you know that India does not have an official national sport
Many Indians commonly believe that hockey is the national game of India due to its historical success in the sport. However, this is a myth; as of 2021, India does not officially designate a national game or sport, as confirmed by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
The Origin of the Myth
The myth that hockey is the national game of India may have originated from the fact that India dominated the sport in the Olympics from 1928 to 1980, winning eight gold medals, one silver medal, and two bronze medals. The legendary player Major Dhyan Chand, who is considered as the greatest hockey player of all time, was instrumental in India’s success in the sport. He is also known as the “Wizard of Hockey” for his extraordinary skills and techniques.
Another possible reason for the myth is that hockey was the first sport in which India participated as an independent nation in the 1948 London Olympics, after gaining independence from British rule in 19474. India won the gold medal in that event, defeating Great Britain in the final. This was a symbolic victory for India, as it asserted its national identity and pride through the sport.
Despite hockey's popularity and achievements, the Indian government has never officially declared it the national game. In 2020, a Right to Information (RTI) query revealed that no sport had been designated as such.
India's diverse and multicultural nature, coupled with a rich sporting heritage, has led the government to avoid favoring any particular sport. While having a national game can instill patriotism and unity, some argue it might lead to bias or discrimination. There are both proponents and opponents to the idea of officially designating a national game, each highlighting potential benefits or concerns.
In conclusion, hockey is not India's national game, and the government has not expressed an inclination to designate one. The debate over whether India should have a national game and, if so, which one, remains open-ended and subject to diverse opinions.