Defining Sports – Part 1

Any definition of sport can be controversial. In practical terms, sport is generally defined by its inherent social definition and its widespread association with aggressive, physical action and sport-related competitions. What typically perceive as sport can vary widely from one sport to another; what commonly constitute sport changes significantly depending on cultural norms, traditions, and trends. In this article, we will discuss some frequently encountered variations in sport.


The definition of sport can be most easily separated into three categories: competitive sports, recreational sports, and spectator sports. Competitive sports typically involve a set of physical activities that are based primarily on a uniform method of measurement, such as height, weight, or power. A common example would be track and field, which has traditionally been considered a competitive sport because of its unique set of competition measurements, such as the hammer-throw distance.

Recreation is a general category that encompasses a wide variety of structured exercises and activities that do not necessarily require a competitive edge, but rather serve to promote social interaction, exercise, or sportsmanship. For example, many indoor competitions for skill with a system of rules and measurements, such as chess, are recreation sports. Similarly, many outdoor activities that involve physical exertion, such as mountain biking or rock climbing, are clearly recreational sports. Sport, in the strictest sense, encompasses a range of organized activities involving physical exertion, whether it requires sprinting, throwing, tackling, or boarding, or involves sport specific equipment.

Spectator sports are any competitions that take place outside of the competitive arena. Tennis, cycling, rowing, sailing, swimming, track and field, and the boxing sports are obvious examples. Not all spectator sports, however, require the same level of physical exertion. One popular sport that falls under this definition is beach volleyball, where players volley on a hard surface, using both their feet and hands. Beach volleyball is not a competitive event, but instead is a game of skill where the participants enjoy a great deal of fun from the constant interaction and competition.

Physical activity is an essential part of any sport, whether it involves sprinting up a staircase, taking a swing with a golf club, or throwing a baseball. All of these physical activities are exercises for the body and will enhance its ability to function properly. The definition of a sport can also include any type of competition, whether it is a contest to reach the next level of athletic competition, or just a friendly game one may have with friends. It is important to remember that the word “sport” itself can often be interpreted expansively, encompassing any number of activities. Therefore, it can be difficult to draw a clear line between a recreational sport, and a contact sport.

As with any type of physical fitness activity, you must consider the level of skill involved, as well as the degree of exertion required. For example, while it is possible to play tennis or volleyball without specializing in them, it would be much more difficult to pursue any form of track and field competition without extensive training. Therefore, while a game of beach volleyball may seem uneventful, it would be far from successful if played by someone who is completely ignorant of the nuances of the game. A comprehensive exercise program that includes a variety of competitive sports can help you develop a full range of physical ability, which in turn leads to a better sense of achievement and well-being.