There is a great deal of debate over what constitutes sports. Physical challenges, competitive games pursued for personal points and achievement, and competitions governed by athletic competition. Sports, however, are a part of nearly every culture existing and past, yet each culture has its own interpretation of sports. The most useful general definitions are those which describe the relationship between sports and games, how sportsmanship develops within the sporting community, and how the game influences society as a whole.
The early years of modern sports are marked by English football, a game developed in the late 19th century with the introduction of automatic goal posts. Though the popularity of the game waned during the twentieth century, the game was revived in the 1970s with the development of “touching” football, which allowed players to signal when their team needed to be substituted. Touching football has come a long way since its inception, and modern sports enthusiasts enjoy marking down the passing of time with annual World Cup tournaments, such as the NFL playoffs and World Series.
Early sports events were predominantly athletic competitions, where a competitor would run or throw a ball toward an arena’s goal post. As time progressed, sports competitions developed as more than just physical contests. Ancient Greece repeatedly held athletic contests to determine who among a city’s citizens had the strongest and smartest bodies. The games were similar to boxing matches, in that the winner would not only escape the contest with their prize but would live to tell about it for eternity. Athletic competition in ancient Greece often went beyond simple physical challenges, and the resulting “fencing” was not simply a display of strength but a display of social status as well.
Throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, different athletic competitions were held to determine who among a city’s population had the most talent and ability. Though physical prowess was not always an important factor, some cities tended to be home to more highly skilled athletes, such as those trained in fighting. In order to encourage the development of skill, these games were banned in some areas, which led to the further evolution of sports throughout Renaissance society. Sports were first introduced as a form of physical education, as many wealthy families subscribed to a religion that encouraged physical activity as a way to excel both spiritually and in public life. The influence of Renaissance Sports on society cannot be ignored, as they helped to develop skills that were then used during the Thirty Years’ War, and helped European society create new institutions of social responsibility and economic prosperity.
Sports have remained a significant part of European society throughout the ages, and the influence of Renaissance Sports can be seen today in various forms of popular entertainment, from theatrical productions to popular TV shows, from local high schools to international professional teams. Most European countries have developed national competitive sports associations, which compete alongside other nations in athletic contests like the Olympics. Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, have maintained separate levels of athletic competitions, with football being the most popular of these.
The modern day world of sports is incredibly diverse, with major sports being played in almost every country on earth. Football has been the most popular European sport throughout the ages, with a large percentage of the population viewing matches regularly. Baseball and American football have developed vastly different traditions, with football being the widely followed game throughout Europe, while baseball is much less popular in England and America. In France, rugby is the most popular European sport, with the Frenchmen winning an incredible six Tours de France throughout the last century. Italian football and basketball have also developed incredibly different followings in their respective countries.
Modern sports can be traced back to the beginnings of the twentieth century, when the World Cup was held for the first time, and football became even more popular. International tournaments such as the Olympics and the World Cup have increased the popularity of modern sports, with people around the world becoming passionate fans of a particular team or player. Many people are also attracted to the prestige and the financial gains that modern sports offer. A win for a team means that you can earn millions of dollars, with the potential for further boosts depending on the winning player’s performance. Many players earn millions of dollars during their sports careers, with sports stars earning millions of dollars each year.
The modern sports world has developed much differently in the last century than it did in the past. As time goes by, new sports become popular, some even becoming world renowned and attracting huge fan bases. However, most countries have remained loyal to their national sports as they were first introduced, with football and baseball being the most popular. Many countries have built big stables and horse racing industries to support their teams. Today, the importance of sports for many people is enormous, which is evident in the huge investments that countries place in their national sports industries, often investing huge amounts of money into professional sports clubs and facilities.