The Social Experience of Sport

In practical terms, sport was defined by its technical definition as the physical activity involved in contact sports or any other vigorous action requiring sprinting, jumping or throwing. These activities are the common subjects for various definitions and sub-categories. For instance, some sport activities are performed with the sole purpose of recreation, while others are intended to exercise. The activities involved in the first category include motor sports, including track events, hockey, football, tennis, swimming, horse riding, and bicycling; while the second category includes sports that are intended for fitness and health. Sports may also be organized sports, especially during camps, tournaments and competition events. However, not all activities considered to fit this second category are considered to be sports, as in some instances, some actions considered to be recreational but with a sporting element such as cycling or skating can also be considered to be recreation.


While there is no doubt that sport relates to physical prowess, many people argue that there is more to the concept of sport than meets the eye. To some, sport and physical prowess are synonymous; for instance, sprinting is an athletic activity that requires speed, whereas fencing requires both physical prowess and solid bodywork. However, to other people, the term sport itself may be too narrow. Instead of viewing sport merely as physical prowess, it is important to view sport in light of its social and psychological elements.

It is easy to understand why some people may feel sport refers more to physical prowess and its ability to overcome obstacles than it does to the mental and social aspects of the activity. The term sport can therefore be seen to relate to the ability of an individual or a team to compete against another in any type of competitive environment. This definition is most closely aligned with the idea of ‘fair play’, which is commonly seen as an extension of sport. Competitions such as Olympic Games and World Championships present a wide range of different competitive environments; although the Olympic Games tends to focus more on men’s events, women’s events are also regularly held. As such, it would be inaccurate to assume that all competitive activities involve physical prowess alone.

Sport also involves interaction between individuals. For example, football, unlike many other games, requires an intense level of physical contact between players. This physical contact is only one way in which sport differs from other social activities. For example, chess players will typically develop an expertise in strategy rather than simple brute force. Sports can likewise incorporate social elements such as friendships, camaraderie and competition; these elements are often less defined in the context of sport than they are in the context of business or other professional environments.

Sport also encourages interaction among individuals. During sporting competition, individuals may come up with innovative ideas or approaches to past strategies. In addition, the competition encourages individuals to develop new strengths and to challenge previous weaknesses. Sports can be especially rewarding when competition can be intense and when the rewards are tangible. As such, when individuals have the opportunity to participate in sports, they are more likely to take advantage of the opportunities offered.

When taking part in sports, it may be difficult for people to separate the act of engaging in the sport itself from the experience of social engagement and interaction. Most sports enthusiasts will agree that most people would greatly enjoy the experience of winning a sporting competition or of having their team win a game. Furthermore, most individuals will greatly enjoy the social interaction that occurs during sporting competitions. However, there are times when participation in sports can take precedence over other needs and desires. As such, when a desire to excel at a particular sport dominates an individuals’ time and attention, the person is often missing out on important social opportunities. The importance of prioritizing other needs and desires should be considered carefully before taking part in sports.