Success does not change and is not the best criterion for deciding a nation’s national sport. This is probably why hockey is not eligible to receive that honor. The next criteria may be popular, as cited by Indian cricket lovers. But cricket was not popular in India before winning the World Cup in 1981.
Everything could change again and another sport could become more popular than cricket. Therefore, popularity is not an appropriate measure to make any game about the status of national sport.
Accessibility is another factor that determines which games can achieve national sports status. Hockey and cricket are both expensive sports. While hockey requires a stick for each player and also a synthetic playing surface, cricket requires a bat and a ball, alongside other equipment such as gloves, shoes and helmets.
A large part of the Indian population is disadvantaged and has no means for a square meal a day, let alone sports equipment. This makes most sports inaccessible to the majority of the population.
Football is a relatively inexpensive sport. You only need one ball for two teams to play with. In many lanes and paths, you can find young men playing football with coconut shells or plastic bottles when they don’t have the ball.
But unfortunately, India has almost no place on the international football field. Although local clubs are quite popular, because a sport is named a national game, it must have international success. That rules out football.
Now it makes sense why India does not have a national sport. For so many people and cultures, it is impossible and impractical to choose a game that will appeal to the entire nation. Until India learns what its national sport is, people will be excited about cricket and hockey in history books.