The Rise of Sports in the Renaissance


The emergence of sports in the Renaissance brought with it a new aesthetic dimension. While the aesthetic component of sports has remained, the emphasis in modern sports is on quantified achievement. The transition from Renaissance to modern sports can be traced through the semantic shift in the word measure. Originally, the word measure had connotations of balance and proportion, but it soon came to mean numerical measurements. The rise of sports in the Renaissance was also associated with the increasing sophistication of sports equipment.

In its most basic form, sports involve intense physical activity. Athletes move their bodies through their environment in order to compete and win. They burn calories and experience sweat and physical exhaustion, and their body parts are improved through practice. The sport of choice is a unique expression of a person’s personality, and each individual’s experience will differ from that of another person. The definition of sport may vary depending on the form, but the goal is the same.

The bourgeoisie of the Middle Ages often enjoyed sporting events such as archery. Archery matches were sometimes staged with great fanfare, and archery companies marched behind their patron saints. Despite being played by lower-class groups, archery matches were often part of grand feasts. Inebriation was also common, and the Pritschenkoenig, or ‘rulekeeper’, was supposed to keep the crowd in check by reciting clever verses.