We often hear the word “sport” when someone mentions another kind of physical activity. What does it really mean? To most people, sports refer to organized sports like soccer and baseball. These meet the basic human need as recreation. Almost all sports are competitive. This is how the distinction between regular sports and, more specifically, competitive physical activity is derived.
One distinction that many have between sports is whether or not they involve physical exertion. For instance, basketball is played with the ball while golf is played with a club. It may be argued that the definition of sport should include games such as bowling, which involves throwing a ball but also requires skill. This would seem to imply that bowling is a form of basketball, which is a sort of competitive skill. While this can certainly be part of the definition, it seems to be more appropriate to view it as a competition, with an end result in mind.
The other major distinction between sports is usually between those that involve physical exertion and those that don’t. When it comes to participation in sports, most people understand that there are two kinds: team sports and individual sports. Team sports involve groups of people who work together towards a common goal. Individual sports involve individuals who are playing for their own advantage or for the sake of their team.
This leads, naturally, to questions about what constitutes the essence of a sport. One common answer is that it is a competition of the sorts that we see in international sports like football, baseball, and basketball. While these types of physical activities involve coordinated groups of people, they also involve individuals who are playing for purely personal reasons. Someone may be playing a sport because it is fun or because they feel stronger or weaker than other players. In these cases, the activity isn’t necessarily governed by any physical activity standards or rules.
While there is no definitive definition for the essence of sports, there is one that is widely accepted, and that is that all physical activities that involve humans should be considered sports. That is to say, if you are jogging on a road, then you are participating in a sports activity. The definition doesn’t have to be limited to a single kind of activity, though. For example, swimming involves both swimming and kicking, which would make it both a sport and a physical activity.
Some argue that the definition should be changed to read that physical activity that makes use of the human body is a sport. There are some problems with this, however. First, most people would readily view running as a sport, since it is a physical activity. Second, swimming wouldn’t necessarily be classified as a sport, because it is not considered to require physical exertion, unlike some other types of outdoor activities.