The Sportification and Internationalization of Kabaddi

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The sportification of kabaddi, a traditional Indian game, is manifested through the organization of certain rules and establishment of institutions that have enhanced its appeal as a global sport for both men’s and women’s teams in three forms of the game: the standard style, beach kabaddi, and circle-style kabaddi. The theory of sportification assumes that all sports tend to develop along similar patterns toward increased specialization, standardization, and rationalization. However, the sportification and internationalization of kabaddi can be conceived as a hybridization of both Western and non-Western ideologies through processes aimed at replacing old forms of discourse with new ones. The focus of this article, therefore, is to situate kabaddi’s sportification and internationalization, from a sociological perspective, within key conceptions of codification, rationalization, and institutionalization. The article significantly draws on the works of Weber, Marx, and Elias, and ends with a call for expansion of sociological inquiry in the study of traditional games which has, until now, largely been informed by discourses from sports science.