Top 10 Popular Sports in India “making Big Headlines”

Understanding the criteria for popular sports in India 

Voicing your thoughts for a social cause or in support of your national team in a sporting event can unite people irrespective of their differences and India fits in perfectly with the above statement.

We all can proudly say that India is leaving no stone unturned to prove their excellence in various fields of sports.

  • The goal in the coming years is to boost viewership and support of the Indian audience to not only popular sports in India but to various sports in India.
  • In recent years, National obsession for other sports like Kabaddi, Badminton, and many more apart from Cricket have gained momentum and recognition in the country.
  • It is giving many new opportunities to fresh talents and kindling motivation among the youth to take sports as a full-time career opportunity.  

So Stay with us while we present you details in the upcoming sections.


  • Ranking popular sports in Indian according to their viewership
  • Qualities that sports teach us 
  • Khelo India: a programme to benefit sportspersons in India 
  • Influence of Media and Entertainment in sports in India
  • Conclusion

Ranking of Popular Sports in India according to their viewership

Before we move forward with the list, The presented data is solemnly based on the popularity and viewership of Indian audiences.

In this blog, we’ll be focusing on the topic “Top 10 popular sports in India” along with a scheme implemented by the government to support sportsperson and the influence of media & entertainment. So here is –

The List Top 10 Popular Sports in India “making Big Headlines” are –

1. Cricket


“Divided by religion, United by Cricket” – This sentence describes India’s love for the sport of Cricket.

No wonder Crickets tops the list in popular sports in India due to its massive fan following.

Origin of Cricket in India goes way back to the pre-independence time roughly in the early 1700s when the British had brought the game to India which would become the most popular sport in the country decades later. 

  • Indian team’s performance has always been on the rise over the past years with the emergence of world-class talents.
  • Also described as Gentleman’s game, India has lifted the prestigious world cup twice.
  • Once in the year 1983 under the leadership of Kapil Dev and again in the year 2011 under the leadership of MS Dhoni.
  • This game has produced world-famous players in every generation like Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli, and many more. 

With the start of IPL (Indian Premier League), Indian audiences have welcomed every season with such admiration making it look like a festive season and also has been regarded as a platform to filter young talent.

  • The Success of IPL has led to organizing league matches for various popular sports in India.
  • Multinational companies have used the popularity of cricketers to endorse and market their products and have been of great advantage to them.

We are sure there is seemingly no end to the “Bleed Blue” movement initiated by supporters of the cricket team. 

2. Football 


Football is the most famous sport game in the world.

  • It has gained immense popularity in the country after the adjustments made to the time zones by famous football leagues happening in Spain (La Liga), Italy (Serie A), France (Ligue 1) and Germany (Bundesliga) and UEFA Champions League.
  • where top clubs all over the world like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Paris Saint-German compete with each other, thus making it the second most popular sport in India.

Although India’s FIFA ranking is 108, young talents are being identified and nurtured to make the team give a healthy competition in the FIFA world cup.

ISL (Indian Super League) started in 2014 has garnered lots of attention and appreciation among the audience.

Players like Sunil Chettri, Baichung Bhutia have been worshipped for their achievements and known as legends of Indian football.           

3. Badminton


This sport has gained immense popularity over the years has made it the third most played sport in the country after cricket.

With records being shattered and achieving great feats in international competitions namely in the Olympics.

  • The present generation of Indian badminton players like PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal, K Srikanth has become well-known faces around the world.
  • Many Badminton veterans like Prakash Padukone and Pullela Gopichand have been the first-ever players of their era to hold marvelous records. 

The Pro Badminton league started in 2013 to establish an international competition and to identify young talent after the success of IPL.

It has established its position to be considered one of the popular sports in India.

4. Hockey


The National Sport of India has seen it’s ups and downs over the years but has never failed to entertain the Indian audience.

Regarded as one of the strongest teams competing in international competitions.

  • India is the most successful team ever in the Olympics, having won eight gold, one silver, and two bronze medals to date. 

Hockey India League was organized by the Indian governing body of the sport in the year 2013, but due to the unavailability of players and clash in dates with another international competition, it was called off in the year 2017.

We are definitely hoping to see the hockey league restart in the coming years thus making it a fourth of popular sports in India.

5. Kabaddi


Kabaddi is one such Indian traditional sport that gained immense fandom and support after the introduction of the Pro Kabbadi league in the year 2014.

This sport is definitely regarded as a common tie in between rural and urban areas thus increasing the popularity, making it a fifth of popular sports in India.

Apart from its massive success in India, The Indian kabaddi team has been the top-performing team having won the world cup 6 times and also for showcasing consistency throughout the years.

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6. Tennis


Tennis is another game which is gaining its popularity in India.

  • The dynamic duo Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes are known as the most successful players in India.
  • Leander Paes and former women’s world No. 1 position holder in duoSania Mirza (duo partner Leander Paes) are known to be the backbone of India for this sport.
  • Rohan Bopanna has also made contributions to bring limelight to this sport in India.

The Indian tennis team is known to be the best in the whole of Asia in the Davis cup. 

The legends of the sport have made incredible records to their names, however, there was an attempt made by Mahesh Bhupathi to increase reach in India to organize International Premier Tennis League in 2014.

  • The tournament depended heavily on international stars and failed to create an impact among the people. 

Irrespective of its ups and downs, it’s still sixth of the popular sports in India. 

7. Wrestling


Traditionally known as “Khushti”, the modern adaptation of this sport with established rules has been another rising sport in India with immense support from rural and urban areas.

Popular figures of the sport include Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Sakshi Malik, Geeta Phogat have brought laurels to the nation by winning gold in the Olympics in different years.

This is another sport that connects the urban and rural India just like Kabaddi, thus making it seventh of the popular sports in India.

8. Boxing


Boxing has been widely gained the support of people and government elected federations in hope for more international achievements especially that of Olympic medals.

Its growth was slow and was happening at a gradual pace but recently it has gained momentum audience interests over the years have made it the eight popular sports in India. 

  • Notable stars of the ring are Vijendra Singh who captured people’s attention by winning bronze in the year 2008.
  • Mary Kom has achieved a lot in this sport and to honor her achievements was recently awarded the Padma Vibhushan in the year 2020

9. Table Tennis


One of the rising indoor sports that recently shot into the limelight was Table Tennis.

According to 2019 rankings, India’s Men’s team ranked 10th and Women’s team ranked 22nd in the world.

Famous paddlers Manika Batra, Sharath Kamal have achieved great laurels for the nation. 

Lately increased interests among youth has made this one of the popular sports in India.

10. Motorsports 


Circuit Racing in particular has attracted a lot of viewership due to the presence of massive following for Formula one (F1 Race) in the country.

  • Narain Karthikeyan helped India secure its place in formula one by being the first-ever Indian to venture into F1 racing. Followed by Karun Chandhok in Formula One.

Apart from Formula one, India also has actively participated in Moto-GP and Rally racing.

A few Notable Ladies doing wonders in Circuit Racing.

  • Aishwarya Pissay holding the world title in motorsports.
  • Alisha Abdullah who has won many laurels in motorcycle racing as well as car racing. 

Active participation of male and female population has led to making motorsports one of the rising popular sports in India.         

*Recommended: Maintaining health in quarantine

Qualities that sports teach Us 

It’s a proven fact that playing any sport will keep you physically fit and mentally active and also teach you many qualities to lead a successful life, some of the important qualities developed are –

  1. Team Work
  2. Sportsmanship and healthy competition
  3. Leadership
  4. Time and skill management 
  5. Responsibility and commitment 
  6. Hard work and perseverance 
  7. Handling pressure 

This clearly shows the importance of sports in our daily lives and the inclusion of it must be made compulsory.

Khelo India: a programme to benefit sportspersons in India 


The Khelo India programme launched by the government of India under the ministry of youth affairs and sports in the year 2015 focuses on providing top-notch infrastructure and facilities to nurture young talents.

A program not just to nourish popular sports in India, but sports as in whole to establish a full-time career.

The programme has been divided into 12 verticals to function at its best level, they are –

  1. Playfield development
  2. Community coaching development
  3. State-level Khelo India centers
  4. Annual sports competition 
  5. Talent search and development
  6. Utilization and creation / Upgradation of sports infrastructure
  7. Support for national/regional/state sports academics
  8. Physical fitness of school children
  9. Sports for women
  10. Promotion of sports amongst people with disabilities 
  11. Sports for peace and development
  12. Promotion of rural and indigenous/tribal games 

It has been stated that the Talented players identified in priority sports disciplines at various levels by the High-Powered Committee will be provided annual financial assistance of INR 5 lakh per annum for 8 years.

Influence of Media and Entertainment in sports in India

source: google images

The three big Khans of the Bollywood Industry have showcased the importance of sports along with focussing on a social message.

Aamir khan’s Lagaan and “Dangal”, latter depicting the journey of Geeta Phogat in the field of wrestling, Shah Rukh Khan’s “Chak De India”, Salman Khan’s “Sultan”.

“Hamari Choriyann Choro se kamm hain ka”

“Are my girls less than the boys there “

Source – Dangal

Watch Dangal Teaser –

Dangal, Chak De India, Tollywood industry’s biggie Vijay’s “Bigil” focused on women empowerment through sports.

  • This proves that films made on sports with a good social message have never failed to connect with the audience which showcases the love for sports in India. 

There have been numerous biopics made to honor the sportsperson of various fields like MS Dhoni: the untold story, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Paan Singh Tomar, Mary Kom, and many more in the coming years.  

Apart from Entertainment, sports is also seen as a good strategy for marketing, and popular figures in various fields are roped in for product endorsement for better reach among people due to their popularity.


Developing the youth of the nation in all possible sectors and implementing ideas to favor their growth is always an advantage.

Understanding Popular sports in India could be a breakthrough for other emerging sports in India.

Support and proper nurturing of youth and breaking stereotypes to establish careers in ones other than popular sports in India is the need of the hour.

*Also click to read: Importance of Mental Health

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