What Is Sports?
The term’sport’ is used broadly to describe any contact sports that involve human beings. It is an umbrella term, covering many disciplines. It is used to describe games such as rugby and soccer, although the two are frequently thought of as synonymous (particularly in the UK, where the term is commonly used in place of football). A variety of other sporting activities are included under the umbrella, including ice hockey, motor racing, lacrosse, American football, cricket and Australian football. These all regularly compete against each other, both in amateur and professional competitions, although they can also be played between members of teams.
The history of the term sports can be traced back to the start of the twentieth century. It was first used in a dictionary by Merriam Webster in 1875. It was adopted by American English later that year, and the majority of dictionaries followed suit. However, it was not until recently that the majority of dictionaries recognised the exact definition of the term, retaining only the synonym’sport’ for the word ‘play’.
In simple terms, sports are governed by some form of regulation or traditions, which ensure fair play, and enable consistent adjudication of the outcome. In organised sports, records of past performance are regularly maintained, and this information can be openly or discreetly announced or disclosed by the organiser or team officials, for example, during a championship or World Cup. In non-sports competitions such as charity events, the sporting element is generally removed, so that the focus is placed on the spirit behind the event rather than its technical competence.
Sports are normally divided into two broad categories: physical and mental activities. Physical activities involve exertion of the body, through the application of muscle power, such as running, climbing, wrestling or playing sports such as basketball. Mental activities involve the application of mind, such as chess or football, or even a mixture of both. Both types of activity involve the utilisation of brainpower, though the intensity and types of exercise tend to vary between different sports.
So why do we use the word’sports’? The dictionary definition is often used in conjunction with a particular physical activity, in order to explain what makes a sport an athletic event. However, there is no single definition, and so it is possible to have a game defined as a type of competition (e.g. swimming, discus) in one dictionary, while the same event may be classed as a sport in another. For this reason, many people use the term Sport to describe any event that involves sporting elements, whether they involve physical activity, contact sports or competition.
In common with many other definitions, the dictionary definition of sport is broad, but in a way that allows the term to be used to describe a wide variety of sporting activities. For example, some would describe fishing as a type of sporting activity, yet others might describe horse riding as a type of sport. The point is that, just like other words, the definition of sport should be able to apply to a wide range of sporting activities, rather than be limited to just a single one. This is why it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking at, so you can avoid the trap of using the term without understanding what it actually covers.