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The missing sports economy in India

India is a cricket crazy nation. We do not need any data to support this statement. There are people who feel that this craze for cricket is poor for the overall productivity of the nation and also other sports suffer due to this. While the latter might be true, sports as a business category is super under leveraged in the nation.

Today Sports is a 3 billion USD industry in India. That’s just 0.1% of the GDP! This includes Media rights, sponsorships, ticket revenues, the sporting goods industry and also sports-related tourism. This is a fifth of what this industry is worth in a sports-crazy nation like Australia. Their people play, watch, experience all kinds of sports. There is no single ‘holy’ sport that people obsess over. This has resulted in a burgeoning sports economy driving employment, growth & tourism.

In India, we need to start thinking of sports as a serious industry and not just a passion for the nation, skill development for youth or ‘extra-curricular’ activities for the kids.

This needs a serious effort and a shot at a vision document that aims at building a sports industry that can drive employment, tourism and value creation. For instance, Melbourne Cricket Ground isn’t just a stadium, it’s a sports institution in itself with annual revenues of a few million dollars. We need to create many more such multi-million dollar sports businesses in India.

IPL, ISL, Pro Kabbadi etc are a great start, but each of them is the efforts of some private investors. Without a 10 year vision on how each of these will get tied together, sports will always be a fringe industry for serious investors. Sports needs to be treated with the same lens how we treat our IT industry, exports, manufacturing etc. It requires a budget, requires incentives and also requires visionary thought process. Khelo India initiative by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports is a great start but this needs to be sustained for many years to come.

What is also surprising is that we don’t see many new bright ideas in the business of sports, even though the startup ecosystem is thriving in the country. Sports has the potential of becoming a 20 bn dollar industry for India in the next 5 years. Just that, it requires a mind shift from sports being just a pastime for most people to sports-related activities becoming serious career opportunities!

We all need to contribute towards making sports a large industry in India which will, in turn, create jobs, contribute to nation-building and also improve the overall health of the nation!

About Simply Sport

Simply Sport is a sports policy research & development organization based out of India. Simply Sport’s vision is to promote sports as an effective tool for the development of the nation. It focuses on policy research, grassroots development and the use of technology in sports. To subscribe to Simply Sports Newsletters, Research & Articles, please write to You can follow Simply Sport on the Twitter handle @_SimplySport for more sports-related content.

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