Cricket is one of the deeply and widely loved sports by people in India. Cricket has always been more than a game, but the heart and soul of many in our country. Nobody can miss out on a big cricket match like India vs. Pakistan, where everybody stops what they’re doing and focuses on the game. Indians are obsessed with the game, as you would see people analyzing and arguing over the game of cricket. At every corner, you will find an Indian who would either be arguing about politics or cricket. In this article, we will look into the aspects of what makes Cricket such a widely loved sport that unites the people of this nation.
So how did a sport, originating from England in the 16th century, become an obsession to millions nationwide?
Some Reasons for Cricket’s Popularity
A sense of escape & entertainment:
Watching a thrilling match, or supporting a favorite team or player provides a sense of escape from daily life stressors, and the emotional highs and lows of the game become a shared experience. We notice people emerging in a state of ‘flow’ while watching cricket. The Flow theory that was introduced by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, described ‘Flow’ as a state of complete absorption and enjoyment in an activity. Watching or playing cricket induces a state of flow for the fans. The dynamic nature of the game, accompanied by moments of tension and excitement, provides an optimal challenge and leads to an immersive and emotionally fulfilling experience.
Cricket as a sport is filled with memorable moments that contain victories, defeats, incredible performances, and unexpected twists. The moments become etched in the memories of fans, contributing to this emotional attachment that they feel towards this sport. The fans also develop an emotional connection with their favorite players. They admire their skills, personality, and resilience while they play. The admiration can develop into a strong emotional bond with the sport itself.
Watching Cricket has become a social activity. Whether at home, in bars, cafes, restaurants, or stadiums, the communal aspect of watching cricket enhances the emotional experience. Indians share the victories, and defeats with each other, strengthening an emotional connection to the sport.
Many Indians are drawn to an emotional attachment to cricket. Fans form these emotional attachments to players, just the way individuals do in their personal relationships. These attachments contribute to feelings of security, familiarity, and emotional fulfillment. Sachin Tendulkar, one of the finest Indian Cricketers has millions of fan followers, as he is considered to be ‘the greatest batsman of all time’. He is widely known to be the ‘God of cricket’ capturing the hearts of more than one generation.
Love for Competition and Sense of Patriotism:
Cricket is a symbol of national pride. Success in international cricket tournaments evokes strong emotions of patriotism and unity among fans. Cricket rivalries such as India and Pakistan add to a level of excitement and drama in this sport. This is when the sport goes beyond a game, it evokes national sentiments. There is shared excitement and support during cricket matches, which enlightens a sense of togetherness and pride among Indians. The joy of victory and the disappointment of defeat are deeply felt. A strong emotional bond transcends cultural boundaries. Indians have a love for competition. They have always been passionate about competing with each other. Traditional games like ‘kabaddi’, ‘kho kho’ and modern sports such as football and hockey are popular ones.
Source of Inspiration
Legendary Cricket players like Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, Rahul Dravid, M.S Dhoni have made their name through their exceptional skills in Cricket. They are not just athletes, but they have become inspirations and idols to many aspiring cricketers, lovers, and fans. Many aspiring cricketers look up to them as a source of inspiration and role models in their careers. Cricket academies and coaching institutions have been set up across the country for these aspirers to fulfill their dreams.
Rise of Women’s Cricket: Breaking traditional gender stereotypes
If we date back to the early years of how Cricket began spreading in India, we can see that the game gained a lot of popularity during British colonial rule. Britishers also made an impact by imposing their own culture and traditions. Back then, only men used to play cricket as they were introduced to it as a sport played by English men. Although, the country has seen a recent rise in women’s cricket in recent years. The Women’s IPL 2023 was a huge success and opened up opportunities for women to play too.
The evolutionary shift in the cultural norms and stereotypes that were previously followed during British colonial rule, marks a change in promoting gender equality between men and women. Women are empowered to play as much as men. The evolution of women’s cricket reflects a positive shift in societal attitudes towards women in sports, and in various spheres of life. The success and visibility of women’s cricket teams on an international stage help young girls aspiring to play sports professionally. The representation in sports helps foster the belief that women can excel in any field. This has helped break traditional gender stereotypes.
A symbol of status:
Cricket is seen as a sport for the affluent, associating it with wealth and success, making it a status symbol. The game grew to become a way to showcase their social status and led to the formation of celebrity cricket leagues.
Mass Appeal: The game of cricket has the ability to transcend demographics. People of all ages, and backgrounds, whether in urban cities or rural villages follow this sport with enthusiasm nationwide. The game’s simplicity and adaptability to different places make it accessible to a wide audience.
Shared Community and Culture:
At every household, you will witness family and friends attending matches together. During International World Cup matches, you can witness the whole of India hyping up for the team to win. The whole nation is seen watching the match on live stream. The sport provides a sense of community and belonging. Many Indians have grown up watching and playing cricket with their family and friends, celebrating victories. The shared experiences build strong emotional bonds within families and communities.
The extensive media coverage and hype around cricket events is what contributes to the passion. News outlets, social media and advertising create an atmosphere of excitement. It builds up emotional stakes for the fans. For Indians, cricket is not just a sport, it is a national sentiment, an identity, a source of entertainment and inspiration for many.