Sport is a common activity that unites human communities across time and space. Ancient peoples engaged in sporting activities for several reasons, including amusement, religious worship, and political stability. The ancient Greeks and Romans engaged in sports as a way to prepare for war. Athletes used these games as a means of cultivating excellence. Hellenistic culture emphasized the pursuit of excellence, and the Olympic games were considered the ultimate unifying activity of society.
According to an externalist perspective, the purpose of sport is the pursuit of excellence, while an internalist view acknowledges that the purpose of sport is to enhance social life. Despite the influence of the larger society, the aim of internalist theories is to uncover distinct values and purposes in sport. Both positions acknowledge the influence of external goods and aesthetic qualities in sport, but argue that these qualities are intrinsic to sport. Regardless of the philosophical perspective that one holds, a discussion of sports should include the importance of the game and its aesthetic appeal.
Michael Brown (2016) defines a sport as an activity that involves the use of physical strength and skill. While this definition includes gymnastics, track and field competitions, and ice events, it does not include golf, archery, or other markmanship activities. He further states that sports are “competitive events in which two or more participants try to prevent the other from scoring.”
A sport involves physical exertion, usually through competition with a governing body. The purpose is to promote physical fitness and competitiveness and to entertain spectators. While some forms of sport involve hundreds of participants, others are more limited and are played between two teams. For example, a racing competition can involve hundreds of competitors, each with the same goal – to win. The object of sports is to achieve the highest possible results in competition at all levels.
There are many sources that study the nature of sport. Among them are R. Scott Kretchmar and Drew Hyland. In addition to studying the subject, many other philosophers have explored the human condition. Some of these philosophers have studied human behavior, social interaction, and sport. They suggest that these are important components in the formation of a socially acceptable normative theory of sport. The social good is at the heart of the debate. The social good is a critical component of the human experience of sport.
A fundamental value of sports is sportsmanship. This concept refers to the way in which athletes participate in an activity. Some famous sportsmen have said that the goal of a game is to have fun, rather than to win. These are key principles in sports, such as the fact that there are no predetermined results and everyone has equal chances to win. Moreover, rules are put in place to make sports fair. Sometimes, players may break these rules in order to gain an advantage.
According to the contractualist school of philosophy, a game is made possible by an implicit social contract. Players’ agreement to abide by a set of rules is normative. By accepting these norms, sports become possible. But this view is problematic. The formalists fail to recognize the importance of unwritten norms and rely on formal rules. The unwritten rules of a game can be important if they are intended to govern the behavior of athletes.