Sports and human civilisation go a long way together. Irrevocably so. For, sports and games as a means of entertainment as well as physical exertion is very much necessary. Within the monotony of routine and a stressed existence, athletics and games do much to refresh and revitalise you, while also injecting fresh breath into all those weary souls.
India as a nation has always been enthusiastic about sports. Throughout history, the need for physical exercise and activity has been stressed on. No wonder then that the country has its own day to celebrate sports and the like.
India celebrates its National Sports Day on 29th of August every year in remembrance of the sporting icon Dhyan Chand who has been instrumental in portraying India on the global sports map.
29th August marks the birthday of the legendary hockey player Chand who is perhaps the most decorated sportsmen in India’s history. With claims to the Olympic gold on three occasions in the years 1928, 1934 an 1936, Dhyan Chand commands respect and adulation as a sporting great and a true ambassador of sports in the country.
However, the celebration of ‘the Wizard’s birthday (as he is popularly known) as the National Sports Day is a relatively new introduction, with the Indian Government deciding to commemorate the legend’s birth anniversary since 2012 onwards.
Born in 1905, this year 29th August would be Chand’s 113th birth anniversary and the celebration of the 6th National Sports Day. And for a player as iconic as him to be celebrated with the dedication of a special day is undoubtedly the utmost amount of respect and gratitude that can be showered by the nation.
Ironically, however, not many people in India are aware of the relevance of the day and the date in the sphere of Indian sporting history. The reasons may be a lack of awareness on the part of the people and also the lackadaisical attitude of the government in promoting the same. So much so that the non accordance of the status of a national sport to any game in the country is a reality not many are aware of.
Though Hockey had been much touted to be the sport that had been elevated to the podium at the national level, yet there is no official documentation that points to the elevation of the status of hockey as our national sport.
Perhaps the very fact that India had excelled at the world stage in this sport had been reason enough to govern the prevailing belief regarding hockey being the national game of the country. And it wasn’t until recently that the myth was busted when a RTI application was filed concerning a query relating to India’s national sport.
The Union Ministry of Youth Affairs in a statement stressed on hockey as being one of the priority disciplines but not the national game. It’s touted to be the national sport only in the general parlance.
For a sport to assume importance in the national scenario or be accorded the utmost status, the domestic as well as national and international performances needs to be taken into account, along with the long term popularity of the game and perhaps, also the place and story of its origin.
Hockey fitted the bill quite fine in all respects, though the country’s stronghold over the game in the international arena gradually declined and hockey suddenly did not command the same respect as it used to do. And if hockey would have managed to retain its pride, then perhaps it would still have been ingrained in the collective psyche as the national game.
As of now, however, there isn’t any such sport that rules the roost in India as far as being the country’s national game is concerned. Cricket, kabaddi, tennis, football and a host of other games do come close but the coveted position is left unoccupied.
The National Day of sports also holds significance as the day when sportsmen and coaches are bestowed with different sports awards like the Arjuna Award, Dronacharya Award, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for honouring the exceptional service they have rendered to the nation through their sporting exploits.
However, this year’s celebration of the National Sports Day has been postponed to September 25th by the Sports Ministry, keeping in view the ongoing Asian Games. In any case, it’s the spirit and not the date on which the day is celebrated that holds significance.
Happy National Sports Day to everyone!
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