Differences Between Amateur and Professional Sports

Sports (or sports) refers to any forms of generally competitive physical activity that, though not necessarily organised sports, aim to employ, build or enhance physical skill and ability in a game, usually through organised or casual participation, and sometimes, spectators. Some sports are known as contact sports, because the physical contact involved makes it difficult for the competitors to avoid injuries. These include boxing and kick boxing, along with other disciplines such as wrestling. Professional sport games may also feature part of a competitive Olympic Games, such as swimming, fencing, gymnastics, track and field and sailing. A number of non-physical sports are also frequently included alongside sporting activities.

There are three main types of spectator sports, the sporting and recreational, professional and competitive, each differing in the level of participation and competition. The main difference between the three types is their level of participation. Sporting activities are typically undertaken by athletes and people who actively participate in the activity, including the members of teams and organisations, or even fans. Professional sport games are often between two people, including a team or an individual, with the objective of winning the game.

Amateur sports refer to those which are organised, though not necessarily professionally competitive. These would include bingo, ice cream and paintball, horse racing and wagering, golf and fishing. Most people choose these sports because they enjoy the activity, but not because they hope to become more skilled or fit. Similarly, although most people choose to take part in organised sports because they find the discipline and physical fitness they obtain through participation difficult to match from an unorganised sport, or for activities which lack a clear defined objective. Examples of these would be horse riding, mountain climbing or swimming.

Professional sport activities have increasingly become more structured and organised as the sport has developed over the years. Competitive matches, often involving two or more teams, often emerge as annual competitions, with qualification requirements based on a points system. Points are gained through the completion of designated courses, periods of training and competitions within the particular activity. Competitions can also be won, but are more often the result of a managerial decision to reduce the point deficit.

Another distinction between amateur and professional sports is the level of skill and competence required. For example, in tennis, the skills required to become a grand master player are very different to those required to play football. Most governing bodies for the different sports have instituted qualification criteria, such that a player can only be called up by one of the governing bodies if they have a specified level of skill and ability. This level of skill and ability must have been demonstrated over a long period of time.

Finally, there is the issue of equipment and clothing. Non-physical activities, such as archery, swimming, cycling and canoeing do not require any special equipment. However, most physical activities require some form of protective gear. The use of shin pads, mouth guards and high-grade biking shorts are standard in most sports, though high-performance running shoes are also becoming commonplace. Equipment and clothing are designed to improve performance rather than simply provide protection.