Sports (or physical sport) is any form of generally competitive physical activity that, through organised or casual competition, attempt to employ, enhance or develop certain physical abilities and skills whilst providing entertainment for participants, and occasionally, spectators. The most common sports are running, walking, basketball, rugby and hockey, but there are many others including archery, boxing, fencing, fishing, horse riding, motocross, surfing, swimming, sailing, tennis and weightlifting. In the modern age, the explosion of the professional sport league in professional sport, the development of a number of ‘professional’ sports betting, and the growth of the spectator sport spectator base have seen the development of new sports, such as mixed martial arts and rollerblading. Some sports, such as sailing and windsurfing, are considered to be more ‘mature’ sports. Some sports appeal to all age groups, while others are best suited for certain groups of young people, with particular regards to their physical capabilities.
As a recreational activity, sports can be enjoyed by individuals of all ages and abilities, although there is clear separation between those who participate in vigorous sports and those who enjoy a more laid back lifestyle and less contact with the more strenuous sports. There is some evidence that playing sports may have positive health benefits. Research by psychologists has found that sports participants are more likely to display high levels of social support, be they family, friends or fellow participants, and exhibit better personal satisfaction than non-sports participants. Furthermore, athletes who engaged in regular physical exertion showed higher amounts of perceived physical exertion, greater mental engagement and higher levels of self-esteem.
Sports can provide opportunities to develop and practice a range of important skills. These may include leadership, discipline, teamwork and sportsmanship, all of which are important to an individual’s potential for a successful career and life. Sports also offers a range of fun, challenging and memorable experiences that can help participants overcome boredom, frustration and stress. Engaging in sports, even in the smallest way, can prove to be beneficial to overall wellbeing.