The Definition of Sports and Sport Related Terms

A sports movie is an often-parodied film genre which makes use of sports as the main theme of the movie. It’s usually a story about sport which is based on a real event or game, and which rely on sport for some degree for their main plot inspiration or resolution. For instance, many action movies make use of some sort of competitions between various teams or individuals within the movie, perhaps to get some sort of prize awarded to the winning team, or as a method of punishment for the losers. Other times, sports-themed films are made in order to have one of the characters pursue some sort of prize or goal.


There are two major distinctions in the definition of a sports film. The first relies on whether or not the film is intended to represent actual sport itself (i.e. a race, soccer, etc.) or if it’s more of an entertainment endeavor which lampoons a particular sport or player or is in general meant to be a ‘comedic’ piece. This second distinction is often used in order to distinguish between sports movies which are intended to provide serious educational insights into a certain sport or player, as opposed to those which are only intended to lampoon a specific sport or its players.

In this year’s definition, the term’sports fiction’ is used to describe any film which tells the story of an athlete within the confines of a fictional setting. This is different from non-fiction works, in that it usually tends to leave out certain elements which make that setting very real, such as specific events which were reported within the media. As a result, the events within the work can be completely different from reality, even if they would actually be occurring within the game/sports universe. This is different from non-fiction works, but can be applied to other genres such as dramas and comedy. The definition of this term has evolved over time, but the two aspects are often used interchangeably when speaking about sports stories.

One of the biggest debates surrounding the definition of sports is that of definitions regarding physical exertion. There is a long and widely-used argument that sports can be defined as non-sport, because it focuses on the physical action which occurs during the play itself. By this definition, tennis and baseball can be described as sports, because there is no physical exertion involved in playing a tennis serve or catching a baseball ball; rather, the players are engaging in some kind of ‘artistic’ physical activity. The problem with this definition is that it is incredibly vague. If one were to define tennis strokes and baseball catch positions, it would include any physical activity which was engaged in by the players during play, but it would be difficult to point to any particular game which could be described as sports, because the activities involved were not engaged in for sport!

Because the definition of’sport’ can become so vague, many people often refer to various events within sports which are engaged in by players as sports, even though they are not necessarily engaged in physical exertion. Examples include games like CS:GO, League of Legends and overwatch, which all involve team-based actions and a variety of different strategies, but which also give examples of how the interaction between players within the game can produce a number of different outcomes, including physical outcomes as well as results which can be either positive or negative. By this same logic, it would also be easy to include non-sport events within the term’sports’ as well, such as politics, rugby and music. However, the extent to which a game can be described as non-sport is often quite limited, and in some genres of popular multiplayer online games, the term may even be used to describe entire game engines, such as the Call of Duty series, which heavily rely on the concept of physical exertion to create the adrenaline rush and thrill which is the defining characteristic of any modern-day video game.

Because defining sports can be notoriously difficult, the idea of a broad definition which applies to virtually any kind of activity involving physical exertion is incredibly narrow. The most common ways to define sports is through a comparison with disciplines which the public at large has come to understand as’sport’. For instance, football is widely understood to be a game involving kicking a ball around with other people, whereas rugby is generally understood to be an activity involving tackle, grounding and catching. The latter two are clearly associated with football and rugby respectively, but the former’s more refined form of play often involves passing, dribbling and shooting, whilst the latter’s more basic form does not. Other, less refined sports are often treated as sports, even when they have evolved from more refined contact sports such as tennis, badminton and boxing.