What Are Sports?


The term sports refers to a wide range of physical activities that are often competitive and organised. They are designed to use, maintain or improve participants’ physical fitness and skills while providing entertainment for spectators. They can also provide a healthy alternative to other recreational activities or serve as a social outlet.

The experience of participating in sports involves a complex set of emotions that reflect athletes’ self-evaluation or expectation of performance and their perceptions of others’ evaluations or expectations. Some of these feelings are anticipatory, like the “butterflies in the stomach” that many athletes describe as feeling before a game. Other feelings occur during and after competitions, such as the elation of winning or the shame felt by losing. The display of these feelings is governed by a variety of social norms that differ from sport to sport.

Sports can be played by teams or individuals, and competitions may involve a single contestant or hundreds of simultaneous competitors. They can be objective, such as a race measured by time or a game of chess, or subjective, such as a gymnastic routine or swimming event judged by judges. They can be regulated by formal rules that are designed to ensure fair play and to prevent cheating, as in boxing or cricket.

Kids can learn valuable lessons about teamwork from sports, as they participate in group exercises that require cooperation and support from their teammates. They can also gain an appreciation of the importance of working together to achieve a common goal, such as scoring a touchdown or winning a game. They can also learn the value of taking responsibility for their actions, as they practice and compete with their coaches, teammates and opponents.