Wikipedia defines Sports as “all forms of competitive physical activity which, through casual or organized participation, aim to use, maintain, or improve physical fitness and provide entertainment to participants.” In addition to major competitions which require physical athleticism or physical dexterity, such as the Olympic Games, there are a number of “competitive, but non-physical activities” that are currently recognized as “mind sports,” such as chess and bridge, which are both recognized by the International Olympic Committee a sports.
What Makes a Sport a Sport?
What makes a sport a sport is a topic that many disagree on. However, the closest we have to an internationally agreed upon definition defines a sport as anything which:
Sports are usually governed by a set of rules or customs in order to ensure fair competitions
There are usually clear “winners” and “losers.” Winners are usually determined by some kind of measurable skill (points, etc.).
In organized sport, records of performance are usually kept
Has an element of competition (although the level of competition required is under some debate. Some, including the Council of Europe, advocate broadening the definition of sport to include “all forms of physical exercise, including those completed just for fun.”
Is “in no way harmful to any living creature”
winning relies on skills on not on mere “luck.”
History of Sports
Sports have become a “useful way for people to increase their mastery of nature and the environment” since man first became active beings (according to the Wikipedia Article entitled “History of Sport”). We have artifacts which suggest that ancient Chinese cultures engaged in sports and sporting activities as early as 2000 BC. In addition, monuments and epitaphs to the Pharaohs indicate that a great number of sporting activities were participated in thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt.
For further reading on the History of Sports, see the aforementioned Wikipedia Article.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
Do you agree or disagree with the definitions given above for sports? How would you define sports?
Do you participate in sports? Why or why not?
What functions do you think sports have in society? Why do you think sports have become such important aspects of our global culture?
Sports and athletic activities have become such important parts of our culture that one cannot easily study what it means to be a part of it without studying at least some aspects of our sporting activities.