The Definition of Sports
Sports are organized physical activities and competitions. These fill the human need for competition, physical exercise and activity. All sports can be potentially competitive.
This is basically the key difference between leisure, recreation or physical exertion. Leisure activities give us pleasure while recreational activities gives us a feeling of achievement by competing or even simply by participating. On the other hand, in sports we need to put in a lot of physical exertion, endurance and physical strength that are all the results of the strategies and tactics used by the athletes and sportswomen.
This has given rise to the major definition of sport and sports. The dictionary definition is: “a competitive athletic activity especially of a strenuous nature”. The most commonly used synonyms of sport are for example: racquetball, soccer, golf, gymnastics and fencing.
These are just some of the most common examples of physical activities that are regularly performed by people all over the world. But there are many more such as ice climbing, sailing, bungee jumping and horse riding. There are also outdoor and indoor sports. One of the most popular is cycling. However, what sets sports apart from each other is their intensity and complexity level.
This leads to the next important definition of sports: participation. The competitors compete with each other in order to reach a particular goal. The definition of a goal can be achieved in many ways. For instance, in sailing, one might say that the aim of sailing a boat is to reach a destination. This might be the ultimate aim of the competitors, but if there’s a deadline involved (such as the finish line of an endurance event), this becomes even more important since it serves as motivation.
The definition of sports is, essentially, an attempt to define a physical pastime. In other words, we cannot talk about a pastime without defining it first. We can only talk about a sport if we have defined what it is. And finally, we can only talk about sports if we have defined a set of standards so we can compare the performance of different competitors.
So let’s take a look at some common definitions of sports. Let’s start with the classic definition – physical exertion. This definition implies, “Any activity in which the body is used in considerable quantities of exertion.” Of course, this includes every type of activity where your body is being used in some way. Think back to the sports examples above – cycling, sailing, running, walking – and see how much physical exertion goes into it.
A second common definition of sports is endurance. Endurance is the ability of an athlete or player to sustain repeated physical activity over an extended period of time. For example, you can’t run a marathon in one day, nor can you walk for a week. As long as you can persist in doing these tasks, you are exercising. This definition is almost as broad as the physical activity itself and encompasses everything from swimming to cycling.
Finally, there is the broadest of definitions: sport. A sport is defined by Wikipedia as “an organized competitive activity conducted for pleasure by individuals.” Sports can include numerous different types of physical activities, including skiing, fencing, tennis, and swimming. Many sports also incorporate other elements such as medicine, gymnastics, diving, or bowling.