What are sports?
Sports benefit, features, definition, skills:
Sport in childhood. Association football, shown above, is a team sport which also provides opportunities to nurture physical fitness and social interaction skills.
Sport pertains to any form of competitive physical activity or game, that aims to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants and, in some cases, entertainment to spectators. Sports can, through casual or organized participation, improve one’s physical health. Hundreds of sports exist, from those between single contestants, through to those with hundreds of simultaneous participants, either in teams or competing as individuals. In certain sports such as racing, many contestants may compete, simultaneously or consecutively, with one winner; in others, the contest (a match) is between two sides, each attempting to exceed the other. Some sports allow a “tie” or “draw”, in which there is no single winner; others provide tie-breaking methods to ensure one winner and one loser. A number of contests may be arranged in a tournament producing a champion. Many sports leagues make an annual champion by arranging games in a regular sports season, followed in some cases by playoffs.
Sport is generally recognized as system of activities based in physical athleticism or physical dexterity, with major competitions such as the Olympic Games admitting only sports meeting this definition. Other organizations, such as the Council of Europe, preclude activities without a physical element from classification as sports. However, a number of competitive, but non-physical, activities claim recognition as mind sports. The International Olympic Committee (through ARISF) recognizes both chess and bridge as bona fide sports, and Sport Accord, the international sports federation association, recognizes five non-physical sports: bridge, chess, draughts (checkers), Go and xiangqi, and limits the number of mind games which can be admitted as sports.
Meaning and usage
The word “sport” comes from the Old French disport meaning “leisure”, with the oldest definition in English from around 1300 being “anything humans find amusing or entertaining”.
Other meanings include gambling and events staged for the purpose of gambling; hunting; and games and diversions, including ones that require exercise. Roget’s defines the noun sport as an “activity engaged in for relaxation and amusement” with synonyms including diversion and recreation.
The singular term “sport” is used in most English dialects to describe the overall concept (e.g. “children taking part in sport”), with “sports” used to describe multiple activities (e.g. “football and rugby are the top of the best sport game and playing more.
There has been an increase in the application of the term “sport” to a wider set of non-physical challenges such as video games, also called esports (from “electronic sports”), especially due to the large scale of participation and organized competition, but these are not widely recognized by mainstream sports organizations. According to Council of Europe, European Sports Charter, article 2.i, “‘Sport’ means all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organized participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels.”
100m race record holder Usain Bolt (in yellow, right) and other runners, Moscow, 2013.
There are opposing views on the necessity of competition as a defining element of a sport, with almost all professional sports involving competition, and governing bodies requiring competition as a prerequisite of recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or Sport Accord.
In competitive events, participants are graded or classified based on their “result” and often divided into groups of comparable performance, (e.g., gender, weight and age). The measurement of the result may be objective or subjective, and corrected with “handicaps” or penalties. In a race, for example, the time to complete the course is an objective measurement. In gymnastics or diving the result is decided by a panel of judges, and therefore subjective. There are many shades of judging between boxing and mixed martial arts, where victory is assigned by judges if neither competitor has lost at the end of the match time.
Roman bronze reduction of Myron’s Discobolus, 2nd century AD.
Artifacts and structures suggest sport in China as early as 2000 BC. Gymnastics appears to have been popular in China’s ancient past. Monuments to the Pharaohs indicate that a number of sports, including swimming and fishing, were well-developed and regulated several thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt. Other Egyptian sports included javelin throwing, high jump, and wrestling. Ancient Persian sports such as the traditional Iranian martial art of Zoorkhaneh had a close connection to warfare skills. Among other sports that originated in ancient Persia are polo and jousting.
Sports have been increasingly organized and regulated from the time of the ancient Olympics up to the present century. Industrialization has brought increased leisure time, letting people attend and follow spectator sports and participate in athletic activities. These trends continued with the advent of mass media and global communication. Professionalism became prevalent, further adding to the increase in sport’s popularity, as sports fans followed the exploits of professional athletes – all while enjoying the exercise and competition associated with amateur participation in sports. Sports such have great opportunity for all players who interested and also want to real play.