The Definition of Sports
Sports are generally governed by a group of unwritten rules or traditions, which ensure fair play, and enable consistent adjudication of the ultimate winner. In most organized sports, records of past performance are often preserved, and for less popular sports, this data can be widely reported or publicly announced. However, in other sports such as ice hockey, football, baseball and basketball, fans and players frequently disagree about the definition of appropriate behaviour. As such the rules can become obscure, leading to long and complicated debates that lack the clarity and simplicity of standard text.
The rules of each sport can vary hugely depending on the nature of the sport in question, the competition rules of the event in question, the governing body responsible for administering the sport, or the attitude of the sport’s authorities to freer competition. Some sports rely on physical dexterity and exertion, such as fencing, table tennis and golf; other sports rely more on sportsmanship, the application of sport principles to the competition, for example, motor racing and rugby; while other sports rely on athleticism, which includes running, swimming, climbing and jumping. All of these different types of exertion require differing levels of physical dexterity and exertion, in turn requiring different rules.
In terms of definitions, there are no hard and fast rules in terms of what constitutes a sport. For example, football is universally seen as a game with kick-offs and goals; play on foot is not a part of most definitions, as is cricket, Australian rules football (AFL) and soccer. Similarly, while wrestling is universally seen as a sport with the wrestlers’ weight concentrated in their legs, the weight distribution for other sports can vary considerably. As such it is difficult to provide a definitive definition for each of the different types of sports; and while there are plenty of exceptions to rules, there are also plenty of common elements amongst the games, as well as differences in the rules that make each sport distinct.