Whenever one uses the phrase “sports and games” it is common human mentality to associate it with the likes of Football, Tennis, Baseball, etc. Especially in a country like India, where the spectrum of sports is occupied by cricket alone (leaving little space for recognition of other sports) the recognition of indoor sports and games is almost absent. The only indoor game we have to boast about is Chess and Badminton (to an extent!).
However, when it comes to the world at large, indoor games are just as important as outdoor games and sports are. Be it in the Olympics or other international tournaments, indoor games are held in great regard worldwide; and some of the most well-regarded are as follows-
Having its origins in ancient India, Kabaddi is also the national sport of Bangladesh. It is an extremely popular sport in South-East Asia and has gained widespread international acceptance. It was during the SAF Games in Dhaka, 1985 that Kabaddi shot into international limelight. The 11th Asian Games held in Beijing, China (1990) saw Kabaddi being introduced for the first time and has been held regularly ever since. Played over a 45-minute stretch with a gap of 5 minutes in between, Kabaddi also witnesses a World Cup competition of which India is the current champion. Highly physical with a similarity to wrestling, Kabaddi is being further propagated through the Pro-Kabaddi League in India.
To a layman this game might seem like a childish indulgence- getting hold of a humongous ball just to knock over ten odd-shaped pins at the end of an alley hardly qualifies as a game, eh? Wrong. The sport of bowling has been accepted and is played by over 95 million people across the world, spanning more than 90 countries. Its roots are in Ancient Egypt (discovered from remains by Sir Flinders Petrie) and also the Roman Empire where the people used husk balls, leather balls, etc. Pin bowling, as it is known today (with 10-pin, 9-pin and even 5-pin variations), was first established in New York in 1895. Besides providing a fun evening out, bowling gives plenty of exercise for the human body and helps in strengthening of muscles, burning fat, etc.
A general term used for Carambole Billiards, this is the most popular game from the family of billiards (others include three-cushion billiards, pool, etc). It is believed to have its origins in France in the late 1700s. The carambole billiard game (most popular in the family) has a very simple objective- a point is scored (known as count) when the cue ball hits both the object balls in a single stroke. As soon as a preset number of points is reached the winner is decided. Other variations of billiards include limited-rail billiards, balkline billiards, cushion carom, three-cushion billiards, etc.
This is a racquet and ball sport that can be played by two (singles) or four (doubles) players. The name squash comes from the softness of the ball that is used in the game. Harrow school is recognized with the invention and popularization of this game which used racquets similar to, but a lot lighter than, those used in tennis. The rules of the game have undergone a lot of changes over time. According to the conventional scoring system, the first player to reach 9 points is declared the winner of the game. If the score line, however, reads 8-8 then the player who reached 8 first gets to decide whether the game will be played to 9 or played to 10. However, according to the current accepted scoring system, games are played to 11 and must be reached keeping a difference of 2 in order to win. According to the World Squash Federation, England is the country with the highest number of squash courts in the world. Jahangir Khan of Pakistan is widely considered to be the greatest player of the game.
6. TABLE TENNIS
Analogous to its outdoor counterpart, table tennis can be played by two players (singles) or by four (doubles). The rules of the game, however, are slightly different. The service must be done in a way so as to make the ball drop once in one’s own half of the board and once in the opponent’s half, and thereafter in the opponent’s half only. In doubles, the rally is continued by players alternating among themselves thus adding an extra dimension of challenge to this extremely fast game; also, in doubles, the service is done diagonally between opposite sections of the board! This game originated n England in the late 1800s where it was played mostly by the elite class as a post-meal game. Owing to the sound of the ball being hit to-and-fro between the racquets, this game is also known as ping-pong. The first ever table tennis World Championships was hosted by London in 1926. With 2 World Championships and a World Cup title to his name, Jan-Ove Waldner is considered as one of the finest players of this game.
This game with a stalwart that India can boast of proudly (Vishwanathan Anand) is certainly one of the most mentally taxing and IQ-demanding games. With roots lying in Ancient India in the Gupta Empire, it was known as ‘chaturanga’- literally meaning four divisions (infantry, cavalry, elephantry and chariotry represented by pawn, knight, bishop and rook). Its spread into and across Europe did not occur until the 1000s. Chess has seen many international competitions being held like the World Championship, the Women’s World Championship, the Junior World Championship, the World Computer Chess Championship and many more. Currently ruled by grandmaster Magnus Carlsen, Chess has been able to boast of heavyweights like Anand, Kasparov, Fischer, etc. Interestingly, owing to the rapid development of artificial intelligence and cutting-edge algorithms, a computer called Deep Blue (IBM) became the first computer to defeat a human chess champion (Kasparov) in 1997!
Undoubtedly one of the most violent sports to have graced the sports sphere, boxing is a sport based hoghly on contact between the opponents. It is a sheer test of speed, stamina, endurance, strength and agility. The roots of boxing are based deeply in Ancient Greece where it was accepted by them as an Olympic game (BC 600-700). Contrary to the gloved-fight that we see today, the initial accounts of origin of boxing suggest bare-handed fights. In the 18th century in England the first champion of this format was James Figg. What added to the violence of the sport was that, in those days, boxing had only one rule- NO RULES! Due to increasing frequency of deaths in the game, Jack Broughton introduced certain rules that brought a degree of decorum into the game. Greats like Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali, Evander Hollyfield have been a part of this game. The variation of boxing, amateur boxing, is much more regulated in comparison (by stricter rules and protective gear) and is contested in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.
A variant of football that is mainly played indoors, futsal is played on a smaller field with 5 players on each side. Futsal is native to Brazil and Uruguay where it is played more than football but attracts far less people. Futsal is played on a hard surface with a ball that has far less bounce than a football. Substitutions have no limitation as in football. The spread of the game during the 1970s was governed by an international body- Federacion Internacional de Futbal de Salon (FIFUSA). Currently, FIFUSA is no longer a governing body of the sport. FIFA is one of the governing bodies and organizes separate tournaments as compared to AMF (Asociacion Mundial de Futbal de Salon). Futsal is played on the international level by countries that are regulars in football as well. The current FIFA futsal World Champion is Brazil.
Like squash, Badminton is also a racquet sport (played with a shuttlecock instead of a ball). Opponents are pitted against one another on either side of a net and a point is scored by a player when the shuttlecock is not returned, during a rally, by his opponent. 1992 was the first year when badminton was first introduced in the Olympics. This sport requires a good deal of agility, reflexes and hand-eye coordination. It was in British India (early 1800s) when this sport first came into existence. However, instead of what we know as shuttlecocks today (made of feathers), woolen balls were used. The Badminton World Federation was established in the year 1934, long time after the game had gained widespread popularity in England.
Basketball was invented by Dr. James Naismith as an activity to keep his students at gym active on a rainy day. The idea was to come up with a sport that wouldn’t be too rough yet would provide the right amount of physical exercise. Originally played with a soccer ball, the traditional brown ball (used exclusively for basketball) came into existence in the late 1950s (introduced by Tony Hinkle). Points are scored by putting the ball in the basket (two points) if it is in front of the three-point line else three-points are scored. Basketball, in western countries, is played at many levels including college and high-school level basketball. The National Basketball Association (NBA) in the USA was formed in 1949 and is, today, the leading professional basketball league in the world. It has witnessed players like Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Larry Bird, etc. who have contributed greatly to the popularity and the success of the sport.