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Sports in India- What hampers its reach and development?

Aayush Sharma*

Sports is an integral part of any person's life, whether as a hobby or as part of his career under competitions worldwide. A child's keen interest in any sports inspires him/her at least once in his/her lifetime to make it a career.

The Sports Industry in India has been growing in recent years and is seen as a catalyst for economic development, but the question that comes to mind is its growth rate. India, being the second-most populous country in the World, still lacks a lot compared to other countries in the Sports Industry. While corresponding the statistics, the Sports Industry of China in 2015 amounted to around 1.71 trillion yuan which increased to 2.19 trillion yuan in 2017. As per the latest records of 2019, it amounted to 2.94 trillion yuan.[1] India's sports industry has grown from Rs. 43.7 billion in 2013 to Rs. 48 billion in 2015.[2] China's sports industry market has increased around 28% in two years (2015-17), and India's sports industry market has risen to only 9.8% in two years (2013-15). India holds a very minimal part of the Global Sports Market when compared US, China and others.[3]

Thus, it is acquiescent from the above facts that India's Sports Industry is not developing as much as it needs to. This article substantially focuses on three reasons affecting India's growth and provides solutions to rectify the same.

Three Reasons Why


The country’s culture has grown so that it has inherited the sport of Cricket as the only and best sport available. Reasons as to why the other sports like Kabaddi, volleyball, athletics, High Jump, Gymnastics and many others have been in the shade and could not become as popular as cricket may include lack of promotion of other sports at school level and cultural upbringing and lack of acceptance to other sports.

The mentality of Indians has grown so that when it comes to career building, the perception is limited to either engineer or doctors or any other doctoral and academic qualification.

Remedies to Rectify:

It is the lack of knowledge about other games which leads to creating cricket as the primary sport of India. Culture cannot be changed by talking to people about other sports. Instead, it needs to be inherited by practicality.

Many parents can't do what a school and government in accordance can do to bring a change. Provisions are to be made, making schools compulsory to impart education of different sports not only through academics but rather on-field. Competitions are necessary to be held with prizes which encourage others to participate too.

But this should not be limited to the school level; government should provide the infrastructure of such a kind that students who want to convert their expertise of a particular sport into a career should get the opportunity to do the same. All games should be recognized nationally and should be developed to provide a respectful life to the player. This is when the second reason links with it.


The lack of infrastructural facilities is one of the significant constraints in developing sports in India [4]. Infrastructure for sports includes all the necessities required for a sportsperson to polish his skills, including the qualified and certified academy, proper grounds and stadiums, proper health and nutritional expertise, best coach facility, etc. All these basic infrastructures are essentials to create the best players in the country.

Towns and villages have no facilities, and people who are sound with money manage to travel to big metropolitan cities with some infrastructure, but that is also mismanaged and inefficient due to internal corruption.[5]

Remedies to rectify:

An article of Sports Venue Business in which Ankan Banerjee, a professor in Sports management, provides recommendations for developing the infrastructure of sports in India [6]. Government initiatives like Khelo India have inspired many potential individuals to take up sports.[7] Some key recommendations include proper allocation of land, exploring commercial aspects concerning generating revenue while developing sports infrastructure, a public-private partnership to be encouraged and many more.

Currently, India has approximately 100 sports facilities fulfilling international standards of sports infrastructure.[8] However, these facilities are said to be highly neglected in terms of utilisation, efficiency and management. Thus, a proper Regulatory framework for management and adjudication is needed to rectify the same, which shifts the focus to the third reason hereinafter provided.


While evaluating the developments in Sports-related Policies and Schemes, the very much lime lighted policy is National Sports policy, 2014. The policy has objectives such as the rising standard of Sports in India and the development of adequate sports infrastructure. Sports sponsorship in India grew 12.3% to Rs.5,185.4 crore in 2015 from Rs.4,616.5 crore in the previous year [9]. Yet, the results don’t seem promising, and the situation remains the same. There exist many more such policies and schemes [10]. Unfortunately, there is no proper regulatory body that evaluates the success and implementation of such Schemes and Policies, which eventually results in Internal Corruption due to lack of evaluation and supervision.

There is no specified legislation that only deals with cases of corruption, match-fixing, doping, and others specifically for sports. This makes the adjudication process much more complex. Hence, the advocate and judiciary should be well-versed with various legislations to solve a matter, knowledge of which pertains only to few big lawyers in the country, which are often unaffordable by small and under-developed sports persons.

In the long history of the Olympics, India has managed to get only 9 Gold Medals so far, which is clear proof of the inefficiency of Regulatory bodies. It is also important to highlight here that Indian Olympic Association absurdly takes away the right to seek redress in any Court of Law from its Member Associations and Federations.[11]

Remedies to rectify:

Some argue the above statement of regulatory body with Sports Authority of India (SAF), a body registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 [12] to fulfil many Aims and Objectives including promoting and implementing schemes. But the fact is that the existence of such an arbitrary and single autonomous authority is itself the reason why the development of sports in India is hindered. Instead, a combination of references should be preferred, which cross-checks each other functionality. Proper laws should be formed to adjudicate the disputes in the Court of Law, which is much more transparent and justice promising. Recently, in 2010 Delhi High Court ruled that IOA as a Public Authority under the meaning of the expression in the Right to Information Act, 2005.[13]

Bodies like Sports law and the Welfare Association of India are to be given powers rather than just being bodies of advisory and consultancy nature.[14]

Moreover, regulations as to the conformity of respectful jobs are needed to be assured to players getting medals for India at the National and International level, which will help in promoting quality and passion.


The issues discussed above are the core reasons people think 100 times before opting for a sport as a career, and unfortunate events like the suicide of great players occur. One of such mishappening recently on March 18 2021, is the suicide of Ritika Phogat, sister of renowned wrestler Geeta Phogat.

P.V. Sindhu, the badminton icon of the country, became the youngest Indian to win an Olympic medal. The continued success of Jeev Milkha Singh, Arjun Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa has created a prominent position for India in golf. In cricket, India has already emerged as a superpower due to its excellence in sporting and commercial performances. They prove that if the framework is improved more and all the necessary actions are taken, in no time, India will create many more great players and bring the country on the global sports map.

*The author is a law scholar from Manipal University, Jaipur

(The image used here is for representational purposes only)


1. Thomala, Lai Lin. “Total Scale of Sports Industry in China 2015-2019.” Statista, 12 Jan. 2021,,by%20the%20sports%20services%20segment.

2. Aurora, Sooraj. “India’s Growing Sports Industry.” The Diplomat, © 2021 DIPLOMAT MEDIA INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED., 27 July 2016,

3. “Share of the Global Sports Market 2018, by Country.” Statista Research Department, 27 Nov. 2020,

4. SportsV. “Present Status of Sports Infrastructure in India and Necessary Recommendations for Further Development.” Sports Venue Business (SVB), © 2020 Sports Venue Business, 29 Jan. 2018,

5. Press Trust of India. “SAI Suspends Officials Arrested by CBI on Corruption Charges Pending Inquiry.” India Today, © 2021 Living Media India Limited, 24 Jan. 2019,

6. Supra note 5

7. Id

8. See page 7, ASSOCHAM-PwC knowledge paper titled ‘Sports infrastructure: Transforming the Indian sports ecosystem’,

9. ESP Properties, “SportzPower report”,

10. Supra note 9, page 9

11. Rule 22, Memorandum and Rules and Regulations of Indian Olympic Association, Amended upto 10th August 2018,

12. Sports Authority of India, “Programs and Policies”,,the%20national%20and%20international%20level.

13. Indian Olympic Association v. Veeresh Malik and Ors (MANU/DE/0108/2010)

14. Sports law and Welfare Association of India, “What we do”,


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