Sports (or sports) includes any forms of generally competitive physical action that, through organised or casual participation, attempt to use, develop or maintain skill and physical aptitude while also providing entertainment for participants, and sometimes, spectators. Common sports include contact sports such as rugby, ice hockey, football, ice skating and swimming; outdoor sports such as cricket, soccer, basketball and tennis; and sports that require special skills such as golf, swimming and sailing. Sports can also be competitive or non-competitive, with some sports requiring the use of speed and other factors that require the use of great skill and physical strength. In addition, many people participate in sports as a way of recreation, while others take part in sports to compete against other individuals or to be amongst a group of people.
Among popular sports that are regularly and vigorously participated in by people of all ages are American football, baseball, track and field, soccer, cricket, and water polo. American football is the most popular of these, with almost 90% of the US population saying they participate in this sport at least weekly. Cricket and soccer are both considered to be played for the purpose of winning or placing. Chess, on the other hand, is considered to be a more intellectual type of sport, as it requires strategy and tactics, although many players consider it an art form rather than a game. Swimming has also become a popular sport, as it is thought to promote body health, although swimming laps are not typically viewed as being particularly rigorous or strenuous compared to other types of sports.
A brief history of the development of the modern sports would suggest that, in the early period of the Early Renaissance, sports were mainly based around gladiatorial fights between professional soldiers. This concept of a ‘war of the kings’ gradually developed into a wider variety of sports competition, which included boxing, wrestling, fencing, and other fighting sports. The concept of the game would eventually evolve into the English game of football, which was first played between teams during the 16th century. It is thought that football owes much to the French language and to the influence of Italian play on the English game. However, the Romans did find some success in organizing gladiator sports, which included wrestling and bullfights.
Ancient Greece is the country of the most recorded, ancient sports competitions, and one of these was the Olympic Games, which began in Greece around 4500 BC. Although there were no official rules at this time, any competitions were usually arranged by local individuals out of a desire for self-expression and a challenge to the Greek gods. The games themselves were incredibly complicated affairs, composed of athletic disciplines such as swimming, wrestling, javelin throw, polo, and others. Modern sports have grown in complexity over the years, with literally hundreds of new games being introduced all the time.
As the centuries passed, sports developed even further in Europe, with the developing society drawing from a wide range of disciplines to create new, modern sports. The rise of the Carolingian Dynasty in the 800s led to a move away from the physical aspects of Greek plays, and towards a more liberal interpretation of Greek culture. This led to the creation of many new sports, which reflected aspects of the Greek culture, such as Greco-Roman wrestling, boxing, fencing, and the Olympic games. While, initially, these were not hugely popular, they gradually began to replace the classical Greek games as the most popular European games. Modern sports, such as track running and wheelchair racing, showed off the abilities of humans in their physical capacities, and gave people an excuse to spend time outdoors and to get fit.
Sports are an incredibly important part of European culture, which is evident in the wide variety of equipment used, the competition involved, and the general enthusiasm for the sport. Many people take part in sports to improve their physical dexterity and strength. For some, it leads to a hobby, whilst for others it becomes an outlet for socialising and a chance to show off one’s talents and social status.