Sports



The development of sports throughout history teaches us a great deal about social changes, and about the nature of sport itself.

There are many modern discoveries in France, Africa, and Australia of cave art from prehistory that provide evidence of ritual ceremonial behaviour. Some of these sources date from over 30,000 years ago, as established by carbon dating. Although there is scant direct evidence of sport from these sources, it is reasonable to extrapolate that there were activities during these times that would fit the modern definition of sport.

There are artifacts and structures that suggest that the Chinese engaged in sporting activities as early as 4000 BC. Gymnastics appears to have been a popular sport in China's ancient past. Monuments to the Pharaohs indicate that a range of sports, including swimming and fishing, were well-developed and regulated several thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt. Other Egyptian sports included javelin throwing, high jump, and wrestling. Ancient Persian sports such as the traditional Iranian martial art of Zourkhaneh had a close connection to the warfare skills. Among other sports that originate in Persia are polo and jousting.

In Europe, ancient Irish legends show evidence of the ancestor of modern hurling being used as a means of preparing warriors for battle as far back as the 13th century BC.

A wide range of sports were already established at the time of Ancient Greece. Wrestling, running, boxing, javelin, discus throwing, and chariot racing were prevalent. This wide range of activities suggests that the military culture and the development of sports in Greece informed one another coniserably. Sports became such a prominent part of their culture that the Greeks created the Olympic Games, which in ancient times were held every four years in a small village in Pelopponisos called Olympia.

Sports have been increasingly organized and regulated from the time of the Ancient Olympics up to the present century. Industrialization has brought increased leisure time to the citizens of developed and developing countries, leading to more time for citizens to attend and follow spectator sports, greater participation in athletic activities, and increased accessibility. These trends continued with the advent of mass media and global communication. Professionalism became prevalent, further adding to the increase in sport's popularity, as sports fans began following the exploits of professional athletes through radio, television, and the internet--all while enjoying the exercise and competition associated with amateur participation in sports.

Worldwide, soccer is the most popular sport of all. In the United States, baseball, basketball, and football are popular as well.

One system for classifying sports is as follows, based more on the sport's aim than on the actual mechanics. The examples given are intended to be illustrative, rather than comprehensive.

* Combat (wrestling, Judo, karate, boxing, fencing, tae kwon do, sambkalah...)

* Court (tennis, shuttlecock sport, badminton, volleyball, basketball, table tennis, handball...)

* Board (chess, checkers, go, bridge, poker, blackjack, monopoly, shogi, dominoes Most if not all of these may not be classified as sports but rather as games. Hence the phrase 'Board Games' Chess can be considered exempt due to the requisite skill required to play this game....)

* Electronic (computer and video games that are played as competitive sports, are known colloquially as "eSports" - see Electronic sports. "eSports" are very popular in counties such as South Korea)

* Target (archery, shooting, darts, snooker...)

* Display (gymnastics, bodybuilding, equestrianism, diving, Marching Band, cheerleading...)

* Strength (weight-lifting, triple jump, shot put...)

* Endurance (running, cycling, swimming, triathlon, orienteering, cross-country skiing...)

* Experience (yachting, gliding...)

Team sports refer to sports which are practiced between opposing teams, where the players interact directly and simultaneously between them to achieve the objective, such as football (in its various forms), cricket,curling, baseball, handball, hockey, basketball or volleyball. The term is used to distinguish itself from individual sports which are based on one-on-one direct confrontation (such as most raquet sports, boxing, gymnastics or Martial arts) or timed races (such as athletics or swimming).

Spectator sports are ones that is characterized by the presence of spectators, or watchers, at its matches.

Sportsmanship is defined as "conduct and attitude considered as befitting participants, including a sense of fair play, courtesy toward teammates and opponents, a striving spirit, and grace in losing."

It is interesting that the motivation for sport is often an elusive element. For example, beginners in sailing are often told that dinghy racing is a good means to sharpen the learner's sailing skills. However, it often emerges that skills are honed to increase racing performance and achievements in competition, rather than the converse. Sportsmanship expresses an aspiration or ethos that the activity will be enjoyed for its own sake. The well-known sentiment by sports journalist Grantland Rice, that it's “not that you won or lost but how you played the game," and the Modern Olympic creed expressed by its founder Pierre de Coubertin: "The most important thing . . . is not winning but taking part” are typical expressions of this sentiment.

People responsible for leisure activities often seek recognition and respectability as sports by joining sports federations such as the IOC, or by forming their own regulatory body. In this way sports evolve from leisure activity to more formal sports: relatively recent newcomers are BMX cycling, snowboarding, wrestling, etc. Some of these activities have been popular but uncodified pursuits in various forms for different lengths of time. Indeed, the formal regulation of sport is a relatively modern and increasing development.

Sportsmanship, within any given game, is how each competitor acts before, during, and after the competition. Not only is it important to have good sportsmanship if one wins, but also if one loses. For example, in football it is considered sportsmanlike to kick the ball out of play to allow treatment for an injured player on the other side. Reciprocally, the other team is expected to return the ball from the throw-in.

Compare Sportsmanship with Gamesmanship.

Violence in sports involves crossing the line between fair competition and intentional aggressive violence. Athletes, coaches, fans, and parents sometimes unleash violent behaviour on people or property, in misguided shows of loyalty, dominance, anger, or celebration.

The entertainment aspect of sports, together with the spread of mass media and increased leisure time, has led to professionalism in sports. This has resulted in some conflict, where the paycheck can be seen as more important than recreational aspects: or where the sports are changed simply to make it more profitable and popular therefore losing some of the traditions valued by some.

The entertainment aspect also means that sportsmen and women are often elevated to celebrity status, or in some cases near-god-like.

The successful execution of a sport requires the consensus agreement of the participants on a set of rules for fair competition. This has led to the control of each sport through a regulatory body to define what methods of competition are acceptable and what are considered cheating.

There have been many dilemmas for sports where a difficult political context is in place.

When apartheid was the official policy in South Africa, many sportspeople adopted the conscientious approach that they should not appear in competitive sports there. Some feel this was an effective contribution to the eventual demolition of the policy of apartheid, others feel that it may have prolonged and reinforced its worst effects.

The 1936 Summer Olympics held in Berlin was an illustration, perhaps best recognised in retrospect, where an ideology was developing which used the event to strengthen its spread through propaganda.

In the history of Ireland, Gaelic sports were connected with cultural nationalism. Until the mid 20th century a person could have been banned from playing Gaelic football, hurling, or other sports administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) if she/he played or supported soccer, or other games seen to be of British origin. Until recently the GAA continued to ban the playing of soccer and rugby union at Gaelic venues. This ban is still enforced, but has been modified to allow football and rugby be played in Croke Park while Lansdowne Road is being redeveloped. Until recently, under Rule 21, the GAA also banned members of the British security forces and members of the RUC from playing Gaelic games, but the advent of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 led to the eventual removal of the ban.

Nationalism in general is often evident in the pursuit of sports, or in its reporting: people compete in national teams, or commentators and audiences can adopt a partisan view. These trends are seen by some as contrary to the fundamental ethos of sports being carried on for its own sake, for the enjoyment of its participants.

Sports have many affinities with art. Ice skating and Tai chi, for example, are sports that come close to artistic spectacles in themselves: to watch these activities comes close to the experience of spectating at a ballet. Similarly, there are other activities that have elements of sport and art in their execution, such as performance art, artistic gymnastics, Bodybuilding, Parkour, Yoga, Bossaball, dressage, etc. Perhaps the best example is Bull-fighting, which in Spain is reported in the arts pages of newspapers.

The fact that art is so close to sports in some situations is probably related to the nature of sports. The definition of "sports" above put forward the idea of an activity pursued not just for the usual purposes, for example, running not simply to get places, but running for its own sake, running as well as we can.

This is similar to a common view of aesthetic value, which is seen as something over and above the strictly functional value coming from an object's normal use. So an aesthetically pleasing car is one which doesn't just get from A to B, but which impresses us with its grace, poise, and charisma.

In the same way, a sporting performance such as jumping doesn't just impress us as being an effective way to avoid obstacles or to get across streams. It impresses us because of the ability, skill, and style which is shown.

Art and sports were probably more clearly linked at the time of Ancient Greece, when gymnastics and calisthenics invoked admiration and aesthetic appreciation for the physical build, prowess and 'arete' displayed by participants. The modern term 'art' as skill, is related to this ancient Greek term 'arete'. The closeness of art and sport in these times was revealed by the nature of the Olympic Games which, as we have seen, were celebrations of both sporting and artistic achievements, poetry, sculpture and architecture.

Technology has an important role in sports, whether applied to an athlete's health, the athlete's technique, or equipment's characteristics.

Equipment As sports have grown more competitive, the need for better equipment has arose. Golf clubs, baseball bats, soccer balls, hockey skates, and other equipment have all seen considerable changes when new technologies have been applied.

Health Ranging from nutrition to the treatment of injuries, as the knowledge of the human body has deepened over time, an athlete's potential has been increased. Athlete's are now able to play to an older age, recover more quickly from injuries, and train more effectively than previous generations of athletes.

Instruction Advancing technology created new opportunities for research into sports. It is now possible to analyse aspects of sports that were previously out of the reach of comprehension. Being able to use motion capture to capture an athlete's movement, or advanced computer simulations to model physical scenarios has greatly increased an athlete's ability to understand what they are doing and how they can improve themselves.

In Commonwealth English, sporting activities are commonly denoted by the collective noun "sport". In American English, "sports" is more common for this usage. In all English dialects, "sports" is the term used for more than one specific sport. For example, "football and swimming are my favourite sports", would sound natural to all English speakers, whereas "I enjoy sport" would sound less natural than "I enjoy sports" to many North Americans.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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