Sports are generally governed by some kind of codes or traditions, which ensure fair play, and enable consistent adjudication of the best winner. In popular sports, such as baseball, records of past performance are kept, and often this data can be openly reported or announced in sports news. However, in less popular sports – especially outdoor games such as horse racing or cricket – the athletes don’t always have the advantage of being able to prove their worthiness. They may have achieved certain qualifications, but they might still be overlooked by officials.
An athletic body is designed for a certain purpose, and sportsmen are judged on their ability to do the job rather than on their aesthetic appearance. For example, in weightlifting, the competitor has to demonstrate his or her ability to exert maximal force during the snatch test, which involves maximum weight being lifted in a limited period of time. A lifter has to be strong and flexible; he or she has to be able to recruit muscles under maximum effort to lift weights. But aesthetic appearance is also crucial for acceptance in a sporting community, and fans can identify with these athletes’ struggle to achieve their potential.
Sports are competitive physical activity undertaken for the purpose of recreation. They can involve sport for leisure, recreation or competition. In most sports, the competitive physical ability is not the end-all to which training and practice can be subjected, but rather the means to achieving the sport’s objective: winning.
Non-physical activities are non-sport and are not governed by a set of physical rules. They may include strategy games, like chess, or board games like Scrabble or rumour. They can involve playing a particular sport like golf, basketball, tennis or table tennis. Sometimes, these games are played in teams, but more often they are played between two individuals.
Sport identifies many different things. In the United States, many refer to it as organized sports (organized soccer, baseball, football), while others view it more universally as a competitive performance-oriented activity. Some definitions suggest that “sport” includes any “contact” physical activity requiring the use of the faculties other than those used in walking, talking, breathing and so on. It can be assumed that the most common examples of sports are those that involve contact with a ball, including baseball, softball, volleyball, basketball, golf and hockey. However, the list goes on, including fencing, cheerleading, gymnastics, motor-bike racing, ice skating, motor-car racing, rugby, sailing, track and field and the like.
The term “sport” has been repeatedly defined over the years, and there are several commonly accepted definitions in popular use. One such definition is “the athletic action of running, jumping, throwing, playing with an object, competing in a contest or playing a sport.” Another popular definition is “an athletic or fitness event or series of events that involves competition.” Still another definition is “exercise, practice, or physical exertion that improves the power, strength, speed, and agility of an individual.”