Importance of Sports in Society
Sports, then, could be defined simply as physical competitions deliberately played for the entertainment of others. On the basis of that definition, a number of complex and intertwined problems arise. Here I will briefly address some of these challenges.
The first challenge is to distinguish between a sport and a recreational activity. Often it is difficult to draw a distinction because most sports activities are considered to be both. Take, for example, basketball, baseball, tennis, soccer, golf and softball. Taken together, almost all these activities are seen as recreational sports but many are also seen as sports.
Most sports are competitive events, involving participants using physical contesting skills, often including throwing a ball, kicking a ball, hitting a ball or competing in events such as wrestling, boxing, gymnastics or basketball. These activities often involve running, sprinting, jumping and blocking. While some sports may have different rules, most commonly the game is ‘free-for-all’, with the winner being the player with the most goals scored. Some sports may have rules regarding contact or touching, for example soccer, tennis, American football and hockey.
The second challenge is to determine what distinguishes a sport from a non-sport. Quite naturally, given that we typically think of sports when they involve contact, there would be a few obvious candidates. If a football player fell into a swimming pool, he would probably be classified as falling into a sport rather than falling into the water. Similarly, a baseball or softball player striking a baseball in the field would most likely be classified as striking a ball as opposed to baseball or softball hitting a softball or a baseball. Finally, a football player hitting a home run would most likely be considered playing football rather than baseball or softball.
A more inclusive definition would include any activity involving physical skill or exercise involving at least one of the major physical actions taught in a sport. In recent years some sports activities have included contact and/or throwing. The inclusion of contact sports such as football and rugby has led to an expansion of the definition of the term even further to include activities such as rugby, lacrosse and hockey (these last two being generally regarded as team sports). In recent years bowling has also become increasingly popular, expanding the definition to include the act of bowling while not necessarily involving contact.
Sports further include sports which require only the application of physical skill and in most cases it is only the skill which is assessed. For example, basketball plays a part in a game of basketball, but it would not be considered a sport unless skill was involved. Many other games of this type are played internationally, there are very many variations on these basic sports. As there are an enormous amount of sporting activities around the world, it is not surprising that there are several definitions to cater for different types of sporting activities.