Sports (or physical activity) is any form of normally competitive physical activity that, through organised or casual participation, attempt to utilize, develop or enhance physical skill and ability while also providing enjoyment to participants, and sometimes, spectators. Sports are popular in almost all cultures and societies because of their universal appeal and undeniable social value. Many sports activities can be traced back to ages-old traditions and cultures, such as the Olympic Games, or earlier, the Greek Olympics. Sports competitions cover a wide range of categories from racing to beach volleyball. Sports are universally accepted as a healthy activity.
Over time, different sports have developed with different rules and formats, while sports competitions frequently change with technological advancements or through the efforts of organizers to make the competition more interesting and thrilling. The evolution of modern sports also owes much to globalization, with an array of new sports coming up in every corner of the world. Today, there are several thousand competitive sports, most of which require athletes with a unique skill set and a specific set of physical attributes. This has led to the emergence of a plethora of global sports organizations and sports codes, each with its own unique set of definitions, rules and competitions, and sporting traditions and sponsorships.
A sport is a term used to describe any competitive physical activity in which the objective is to achieve a goal. Many people confuse sports with other common exercises and activities such as running, walking, swimming, gardening, basketball, tennis and golf. While these sports are generally recognized as being an exercise activity, it must be kept in mind that sports competitions are structured and organized differently from other normal exercises in that they require a high level of skill, concentration, endurance, athleticism, mental focus, and the ability to work under pressure, among other factors. Sports may include any or all of these characteristics.
The first defining characteristic of sports is the activity involving physical skill. All sports involve some degree of skill, and the degree of skill required will vary across sports. This definition excludes any activity that does not involve physical exertion, which can be broadly defined as exerting force against resistance. As an example, while cycling requires exertion of the body’s muscles against the resistance of the pedals, swimming requires a high degree of physical strength to propel oneself into the water and golf relies on the use of one’s hands for the entire bodyweight of the player.
The second defining characteristic of sports is the element of skill. It is this quality of the activity that makes it distinct from other activities and sports. Many activities that do not involve physical skill do, however, rely on skill to some extent. For instance, it is not unusual for someone who is playing table tennis to rely on their own technique to win rather than relying on an artificial intelligence that would be more likely to lose the game. In addition, while it is uncommon for an Olympic athlete to rely entirely on their athleticism, in sports such as football and soccer, many players have large parts of their skill foundation built around their ability to sprint and kick.
Finally, there is the third defining characteristic of sports, which is the emotional element. The definition of sports as physical exertion and skill relies heavily on the emotional response of the participants. In contrast, many people base their view of the definition of sports on the fact that professional athletes earn six or seven-figure salaries, most of which are obtained in recognition of their performance on the field. In contrast, the emotional element of sports, particularly from the perspective of competitors, is tied to the feeling of victory, as well as an individual’s pride in achieving a particular level of success.