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Sports Exotics: Kabaddi's Million Dollar Spots

Sports Exotics: Kabaddis Million Dollar Spots

The Bridge Desk

Updated: 1 Dec 2021 11:55 AM GMT

India is known not only for being an unofficially named gambling country but also for being the perfect place to Play Twenty-One. It is known worldwide, among other things, for the ancient Indian game of kabaddi, which today is breaking all the ratings, attracts sponsors, organizes a powerful flow of money around itself, and is experiencing a second birth. It is a contact sport more than four thousand years old, originally practiced to repel invaders, and now practically all the inhabitants of the Indian subcontinent are passionate about the game.

Mention of this game is even mentioned in the Mahabharata and other works of ancient India, but it became world-famous only in the XX century. Kabaddi was introduced by the Indian team as a demonstration sport in the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Kabaddi is quite closely related to Indian culture. In fact, the main part of the game is built on controlling the breath - pranayama, one of the practices in yoga. In addition, kabaddi players need to be physically well prepared - since the game is a contact game, strength, agility, and speed are valued.

If we try to characterize the sport in a nutshell, the first thing that can be noticed is that it is exclusively a team effort. Victory does not depend on one person in any way.

The actions of the players resemble the scene from a madhouse. Some men are trying to take down other men and some are nonstop shouting, "Kábaddi, kábaddi, kábaddi !!!"

How Kabaddi is Played

Two teams, each with 7 players, occupy opposite sides of a 13 m x 10 m playing field, divided by a line in the middle. Each team sends an "invader" to the dividing line. His task is to touch an enemy player (one or more) with his hand or foot and escape to his half of the field. After the offensive player successfully returns, the opposing player he touched is out of the game.

No big deal, right? The usual sleight of hand? And if you add that in the opponent's zone, the striker is not allowed by the rules to breathe?

This is how kabaddi is played - one of the oldest games of mankind, which is experiencing a second birth in the 21st century. The most amazing rule - breathing - is controlled by referees simply. The attacker (raider, as he is called here), while in the opponent's square, must continuously say the word "kabaddi". If he is silent and inhales, he is out of the game, and the opposing team scores a point. A perfect attack is one in which the raider penetrates the zone, touches as many opponents as possible, and returns for a breath to his half. It is sufficient to touch any part of the body on the centerline to make the return count.

Effective attacks are often like touchdowns, only without the ball. The defender hangs on the attacker, but he crawls to the "ribbon", touches it with his hand - and that's plus as many points as the defenders hang on him.

Those, in turn, can't cross the center line, but they can hold their opponent with grips - so that he breathes and drops out. Matches take place in different weight and age categories.

In addition, kabaddi players must be very well prepared physically: the game is a contact game, and both strength, agility, and speed are needed.

Kabaddi Nowadays

Since 2010 India is the undisputed champion in kabaddi, and 2014 was a watershed year in this backyard sport and brought to the world the Pro Kabaddi League (PKL). It is now a whole industry that auctions players and rakes in millions of dollars and rupees a year.

Curiously, when the need arose to advertise for sponsors, the players dressed up in jerseys and targeted the annual income of the league's two super clubs, U-Mumba and Jaipur Pink Panthers, at a respectable sum of around $2.5-3 million.

But the most interesting figure concerning the sport is another. In the 2014 season, in India, League matches were watched by 435 million viewers. Only the Premier League soccer in England had more.

The secret of this game is its simplicity: the duel can take place both in the hall and on the street, no expensive costs are required, only the desire. Dynamics of movement makes this sport very fascinating, every half minute there is an entrance into the opponent's zone or a tackle, and the match lasts only 40 minutes, so the audience is the widest - women, men, children, urban and rural residents.

The world is full of the most unusual sports. Not all of them are destined to achieve Olympic status, but each of them has its fans, who love it and devote time to its development in the regions of the world. But Kabaddi is an exception to all the rules!

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