Sports are usually governed either by some kind of ritual, or a group of unwritten rules or traditions, that help ensure fair play, and enable consistent adjudication of the outcome. In professional sport, statistics of past performance are commonly documented, and this information can be made widely known or reported in sports media. Nevertheless, many amateur sport people also pursue a sporting activity for its social aspect, or as a challenge to develop their sporting ability. As part of this, the following guidelines have been drawn up to specify how the outcome of a sporting activity should be determined.
There are two types of sport; physical games such as swimming and athletics, as well as mental games, such as chess and bridge. The distinction between these types is that physical games require external exertion, whilst mental games do not. The common assumption is that physical games such as swimming and athletics require competitive, energetic actions such as sprinting or throwing, whereas mental games such as chess or bridge require some skill and strategising.
It was in 2021 when the world governing body for athletics (FIBA) began a new development to increase the level of participation in Olympic events. This was the introduction of a new system known as Qualifying Points, based on the points accrued from wins, rather than the point system used in swimming events. This was designed to encourage more highly skilled competitors to compete at higher levels, encouraging the growth of professional sportsmanship and increasing the standard of living for athletes. The introduction of Qualifying Points also meant that the qualification process for Olympic qualifying was split into four separate sections, with the aim of creating more opportunity for participants.
A further common distinction in defining sports is whether the activity needs to be physical, mental, or strategic in nature. To simplify this, there are two types of sports competitions: physical and mental. Physical activities involve exerting physical force against another human being in a competitive environment; these may include sprints, weight-lifting, wrestling, boxing, triathlons, rowing, basketball, football, hockey, gymnastics, or whatever. Mental activities involve the application of thought to overcoming obstacles or thinking positively to achieve a goal. Most commonly these activities involve intellectual disciplines, though it has been noted over the last century that many non-sport events are also of interest to the sporting public, such as art, literature, dance, drama, or music. These events are also normally classified as ‘sports’ because they use competitive procedures and the elements of sport to their advantage.
The debate over what constitutes a sport can often take a fierce turn, especially when an argument is framed around a particular physical activity. There is a vast array of definitions, but one common element across all is the fact that it requires a ‘physical effort’ or an action of some kind to achieve the outcome of that activity. There are many potential outcomes from playing a sport, but the one that interests participants the most is often the competition that occurs. Some sports can be defined as a competition, because the outcome is already pre-determined by the start of play. For example, most soccer matches end in a 1-1 draw; the score determines who gets to take home the title.
If you choose to use the term “SPORTS” to describe any event you want to describe, make sure you are precise with your definition. One person could argue that basketball is a sport, because it takes effort and physical exertion to win the game. However, if someone wants to define the game of rugby for example, the actual physical exertion is taken out of the equation, because rugby relies on speed, power, skill, and strategy. It is the exact opposite of football; the two games require very different physical attributes. It is important that any definition you choose is not purposefully misleading in order to create an argument, as this can be seen as censorship.