Sports (or sporting activity) is any form of generally competitive physical activity that, through organised or casual competition, seek to utilize, develop or maintain certain physical abilities and skills for the benefit of participants, and occasionally, spectators, while offering entertainment to the involved individuals. Numerous activities fall under this broad heading, including but not limited to, gymnastics, rugby, basketball, golf, hockey, tennis and swimming. Some sports may also include non-physical competitions such as circus arts, martial arts, figure skating and motor-bike racing. The degree to which an activity can be classified as a sport depends largely on the activity and the way in which it is viewed by those who participate.
One well-known example of an activity that many people take to be both sports and entertainment is the chariot race. Originating in ancient India, chariot races have been conducted as early as the 7th century BC, when chariads, wood-driven carts with one or more seats, would compete with other chariot-racing teams on roads throughout the country. Today, chariot races occur regularly all over the world, often as part of athletic events, charity events and as major social occasions. Chariot racing has also been used in the armed forces and as a form of military training since the Second World War.
The idea of a mind sports competition is not quite new. In fact, there have been ongoing attempts to define a clear distinction between non-physical and physical events since the ancient times, when the chariot races first gained popularity. The purpose of any contest, whether of the physical or mental kind, is to determine the outcome based entirely on the merits of the mind rather than on physical strength or stamina, although the two aspects may sometimes overlap. Today, sports competitions are widely accepted as being able to allow competitors to utilise their best mental skills to ensure fair competition among all the participants. However, even though most sports competitions today make this clear, many still refuse to recognise the importance of the mind in ensuring fair play.
One of the earliest recorded occasions of a competition of this type was the Olympics, which were held in ancient Greece. Despite the fact that the competition involved physical fitness exercises, it was the spirit and determination of the athletes that allowed them to overcome their physical limitations and become a part of the Olympic Games. It is this spirit of the individual that is necessary if we are to define sports as a sport at all – it should be noted that there are many types of games which are commonly regarded as sports, such as swimming, diving and cycling. However, when we consider games such as baseball and basketball, it is apparent that the spirit in which they are played is lacking; it is the determination and hard work of the players which makes these sports what they are. Therefore, in modern day world, it seems obvious that we should include other physical fitness-based activities such as swimming, running and cycling into the Olympic Games, allowing those participating to fully utilise their mind and their body in order to maximise their skills and abilities and therefore to achieve their full potential.
The Ancient Olympics did not have much in the way of sports competitions, but it was the Romans who introduced one of the first modern competitive sports tournaments. Although the Romans were renowned for their culture and military success, they were also notorious for their theatrical and sporting achievements. The Romans were famous for hosting the first known sports festival – the games of the Thirteenth Olympics – where they humiliated other countries and showed off their gladiators in colourful fashion and eventually cemented themselves as the most powerful nation on the planet. While many of the games of the Ancient Olympics can be enjoyed to this day, some of the games that they hosted and organised were notably less enjoyable than others, such as wrestling, boxing, wrestling and canoeing.
However, modern day Olympics and other international sports events are now much bigger and more widespread. These games ensure that athletes from around the world are able to demonstrate their prowess and ability in physical activities. The wide variety of sports now available ensures that no sporting competition is ever too strenuous for a sportsman or woman. Modern day athletes put their all into their chosen sports, pushing themselves as far as possible in order to bring home the gold. This level of dedication is inspiring to other sportspeople and has helped them develop their skills far beyond what they could have done previously.