The Different Types of Sport

Sport is usually understood to be a physical activity involving skill and physical exertion with minimal elements of social interaction or competition where standards and regulations governing the sport generally exist formally through organised competitions and associations. This definition has evolved over time and as sport activity became increasingly integrated into mainstream life, its meaning and significance has changed tremendously, taking on new and different aspects and adding new elements as developments in sport methodology and understanding have occurred. Today the word’sport’ can mean a number of things and it is important that people are aware of the various meanings that they might have in relation to their sport of choice. Here are some of the most common definitions used when people talk about sport:


Physical Activity. Any physical activity carried out with a view to raising or enhancing the performance of an individual. It is not necessary that every physical activity necessarily needs to be competitive; in fact, many recreational activities can be classified as carrying out exercises for health and fitness. Competitive events such as weightlifting are very popular sports which require athleticism and physical strength. Other popular sports that fall under this category include swimming, climbing, horse riding, athletics, gymnastics and martial arts.

Physical Competition. The competition in modern society has extended beyond the sporting arena, making a definition of this term slightly more complex. In simple terms, physical competitions involve a set of tasks or events which are undertaken with the aim of one participant winning and being declared the winner of the event. These types of sports include golf, tennis, swimming, track and field, rugby, sailing, racing, aerobics and surfing.

Indirect Competition. A popular definition of sport is ‘an interactive experience in which the participants cooperate to meet and achieve a particular objective’. As the definition implies, it is not necessary for an activity to involve physical contact, and can include non-physical competition (such as games of skill, strategy and chance). The activities that fit into this category are very popular amongst children and adults. For example, scavenger hunts, art competitions, and riddles are examples of this type of activity.

Indirect Competition. This definition of sport is also very broad, but it is typically associated with physical exercises or physical exertion. An example of this would be the sport of fishing, which requires the angler to exert physical effort to retrieve fish. This definition does not require that the fish be retrieved using actual hands, and many forms of angling are carried out with the use of artificial baits and lures.

The point is that the definition of sport should not be thought of as an exact science, because it really is dependent on the definition of each individual participant. Many people will see the word ‘darts’ and immediately assume that it is a sport, when it is in fact a sport where a series of dart throwing activities are held. Chess is another example, where people define a game of chess as being a sport, while in truth it is more of an abstract form of skill. Darts and chess are examples of modern competitive sports, where in earlier times no real physical contact would have been made.

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