The Definition of Sport
Sport can be broadly defined as any activity engaged in by humans in which they attempt to gain an advantage over others in some way. Humans are inherently competitive but sport can involve anything from playing a sport to participating in a particular contest. In most modern societies sport has developed as an important element of social life and has come to represent the very essence of who people are. Sport, and particularly sport that involves a degree of physical activity, is regarded by most people as an activity of purely physical nature. A popular word for this conception of sport is ‘pleasure sport’.
A popular form of sport for many people is darts, the addictive game that requires quick movements and precise timing. darts is a great form of exercise because it does not require too much physical exertion; indeed most people will agree that it is impossible for them to play sport without some degree of physical exertion. However, it is worth noting that sport can also involve exertion, and in particular certain sports it is possible to derive benefit from using your body in ways that you would never have necessarily considered doing in other situations. As such, it is worth considering that there can be a place for sport in our lives even when we do not participate in physically strenuous sports.
The definition of sport itself is open to considerable interpretation. It is commonly held that sport encompasses any physical activity that challenges the human body and its capacity for physical resistance. In this definition sport can be seen to include sporting activities that involve using the body in an endurance competition, such as sprinting up a set of stairs, swimming for a marathon, or cycling for an hour. Sport can also be used to describe non-sporting events, such as swimming or lifting weights. However, sport can also encompass any physical activity that creates an obstacle for the participant, and that requires skill, strength, and fitness.
Sport is a wide-ranging definition that encompasses a wide range of informal physical activities that are popular with the vast majority of people. For example, many would probably define sport as participation in competitive events, including athletics, hockey, swimming, racquetball, and golf. Some would go further and define sport further as participation in professional events, including Olympic, World Tour, and European and world championships. It should be noted, however, that in some parts of the world, such as the US and Canada, sport can be seen to include only contact sports, and to exclude outdoor activities.
In addition to the broad definition of sport, some professionals have defined it more precisely, especially as applied to the definition of the mentally-engaged athlete. For these individuals, sport is a means of engaging with the physical and mental aspects of one’s self. For instance, those engaged in extreme sports, including skydiving, rock climbing, racing car duels, etc., are commonly considered to be engaged in the mentally-engaged athlete definition. The definition is also important because of its application to collegiate athletics, which are often characterized by schedules and competition levels that mirror the physical activities for sport. Thus, college athletes may be more closely related to the definition.
For many, the definition of sport is related to the ability to master skills and sport in an existing or recreated setting. However, most definitions of sport leave room for non-physical exertion, such as skilled competition, fine or delicate motor coordination, and enhanced skills. Indeed, in many ways, sports are becoming more about skill and precision than about physical exertion. As Michael Brown and Robert McKenzie argue in their seminal work, Theoria: A History of Sport, “the history of sports is really the history of technology applied to the social sciences.”