The article 'History of Sports and Its Relationship with the Law' explores the intricate and dynamic relationship between sports and the law.

The article 'History of Sports and Its Relationship with the Law' explores the intricate and dynamic relationship between sports and the law throughout history. Sports have been an integral part of human culture for millennia, serving as a source of entertainment, competition, and social cohesion.

It is a dynamic story that captures how the country's social, cultural, and legal landscape changes. This relationship has gone through several stages of development and regulation over centuries.


Since the beginning of time, people have participated in sports. Sports can be understood by their participation or gameplay. Several recognised sports are played internationally, including cricket, football, basketball, tennis, ice hockey, badminton, chess, etc. In India, it has an extensive background dating back to the Vedic era. Several games, including chess, hockey, polo, wrestling, and archery, are thought to have roots in India.

Historically, the use of societal customs to help handle issues resulting from a sporting event or sporting activity. Not-for-profit organisations typically run sports law and, as such, lack any recognisable body or status to identify their presence in society. Frequently, law and sport were seen as two distinct fields. Many believe it only represents an aggregation of different civil law disciplines, including contract law, labour law, tax law, anti-doping law, and intellectual property law. Simply enough, sports law was general law applied to the athlete or team.

History of Sports

Even though it's impossible to be specific, boxing and wrestling are believed to be the earliest sports ever practised. Running competitions would have been among the first sports practised. Hunting and throwing sports were also practised earlier, as would competitions involving hitting, kicking, and throwing objects resembling balls. There was only one event, a footrace, at the first ancient Olympic Games identified in 760 BC. Later Games featured additional competitions like boxing, equestrian, wrestling, discus, javelin, and leaping. It is believed that wrestling is the only sport mentioned in the Bible as of this time.


A. Sports Organisation

The team is a fundamental organisational unit at the grassroots level of sports. The international sports bodies for each sport, comprised of national bodies from many nations, are at the top of the hierarchy. Several countries' provincial or state organisations also include national sports bodies. The several districts or clubs make up the local state bodies.

In India, national sports organisations select the national team to compete in international competitions where success is a source of pride for the entire country. They take the players into account when choosing and participating. These organisations also make money from advertising during sporting events and the highest bidder takes away the broadcast and broadcast rights for a substantial fee. In addition, they even punish the offending players by banning them from future games. Accordingly, in most nations, including India, the orders given by the court are against these private organisations instead of any public or government authority to enforce their public duties and obligations.

B. Sports Authorities

There is no legislation for sports law in India, so the Indian Government set up the “Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports” to provide the necessary infrastructure, encourage capacity building, and foster excellence in various competitive activities at the national and international levels. The numerous National Sports Federations (NSFs), which are autonomous, are primarily in charge of sports promotion. To control NSFs, the Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs periodically releases alerts and instructions.

The Sports Law in India is administered by:

  • National Sports Policy
  • Sports Law and Welfare Association of India
  • Sports Authority of India
  • The Sports Broadcasting Law in India

The regulatory bodies of the Board of Control for Cricket in India ("BCCI") and the Indian Olympic Association are independent in India.

The Government of India founded the Sports Authority of India ("SAI") on March 16, 1984, to maintain the infrastructure built for the "IX Asian Games." The main goals of SAI were to use and develop various facilities, including residential facilities, necessary infrastructure, various training centres, and centres to hold tournaments, championships, competitions, seminars, and conferences at multiple levels. SAI also sought to persuade people to conduct research works to bring development in the sports field.

Constitutional Approach

The national sports organisations prepare the national team to represent the country in international tournaments where success is a source of national pride. These organisations also profit from advertising during sporting events and grant telecasting and broadcasting rights to the successful bidder for significant sums of money. Additionally, they punish the indiscreet participants by banning them from future games—even governance of domestic matches or games by these organisations.

The "Ajay Jadeja v. Union of India (2002)" case began a new age of legal changes affecting sports. Lack of a properly organised inquiry, problems with sportsmanship, how the complainant took care of it, and numerous other controversies were associated with it. The case held that because sporting organisations serve public purposes, they fall under the High Court's writ jurisdiction. Similarly, a case called the "Magna Carta of Indian Sports Law." The BCCI’s arbitrary termination of the broadcasting rights agreement is the issue involved in the case. The aggrieved party petitioned the Supreme Court under “Article 32 of the Indian Constitution,” which can only be brought against the organisations when “Article 12 of the Indian Constitution” identifies as "States." The Supreme Court held that the BCCI did not qualify as a "state." Thus, writing in a minority opinion, asserted that BCCI qualifies as a "state," nonetheless.

The National Sports Development Code, which governs the National Sports Federation of India, is one example of a specific enactment needed for the entire country. However, because sports is a part of the Schedule of the Indian Constitution, it was upheld that the validity of the Code mentioned above in another case.

Sports Law and Other Laws

Competition Law

Competition law ensures healthy competition between the parties, whether between the companies or the sports field. Competition Law helps to maintain healthy competition between the players, for which they pay and ensures the flow of income in the sports industry. The act tackles imbalance in the sector through processes like gambling, match-fixing, and dominance by the governing body. The governing body in India for sports is BCCI. The act makes sure BCCI abuses its superior powers. The act also ensures no anti-competitive parties emerges as a competitor.

Alternative Dispute Resolution ("ADR")

Arbitration is a process that resolves disputes between two parties outside the traditional court, where the judgment is known as an award that the parties need to obey. The Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996 governs Arbitration in India. The Act deals with national and occasionally international dispute resolution—the federal deals with any issue in the world of sports in charge of that particular sport. If required, the worldwide alliance gets involved in resolving the issue. As sports become more professional and intensely competitive, arbitration becomes more and more critical. This approach provides the most significant solutions based on sports’ diversity, indisputable nature, and a quick decision on what to do. Arbitration offers relief to the traditional courts from the burden of sports-related matters.


Sports sector in India is a powerful unit with its talented players and their devotion. The Government had their back, supporting them financially and granting the requirements. Recently, the growth of the Indian Premier League and the Indian Cricket League has brought up important issues related to the competition law. it effectively illustrated the necessity to strengthen Indian sports law. The Indian sports industry has made significant progress. Due to the numerous commercial interests involved, sports have taken a corporate form. Due to the growing market development and the requirement for clear and comprehensive legal paperwork, sports-related issues have significantly increased in concentration. Agreements should have the opportunity to specify the parties' obligations and expectations, safeguard the long-term interests of the brand and the rival, and consider the numerous regulatory, legal, and sector-specific risks.

It will have the power to form boards or panels to decide disputes and penalise rules or code of conduct violators. The Sports Commission will exert significant influence over organisations like the Sports Authority of India, focusing only on planning various sports events in India.


[1] A History of Sports, Available Here

[2] Indian Olympic Association v. Veeresh Malik and Ors., WP (C)No.876/2007

[3] Exploring and Analysing Sports Laws in India, Available Here.

[4] Ajay Jadeja v. Union of India, 95 (2002) DLT 14

[5] Zee Telefilms and Others v. Union of India and Others, (2005) 4 SCC 649

[6] Indian Constitution, Available Here

[7] Indian Olympic Association v. Union of India, WP(C) - 2310/2012

[8] Sports Law Evolution, Available Here

[9] The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, Available Here

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Shruti Roy

Shruti Roy

Shruti is a student of Symbiosis Law School, Noida. As a young and aspiring legal enthusiast, she finds herself captivated by the intricate world of corporate law.

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