A Basic Guide to Sports Terminology

Sports (also spelt as ses in Germany, England and Scotland) is a term used to describe any form of organized competitive physical activity that, through either organized or casual participation, attempt to employ, enhance or improve particular physical skill and/or ability while providing enjoyment to participants, and sometimes, spectators. The word “sport” itself has several interpretations. One of them is that the activity can be regarded as a competitive activity. It can also be used to describe non-competitive activities conducted for the purpose of maintaining, enhancing physical capabilities. Sports are usually governed by a set of rules and principles, governed by the sport organizations, which impose a set of regulations (such as the Olympic Committee) on the conduct of sporting events.

Generally, sports refer to any activity that employs physical exertion, which may be in the form of sprinting, lifting weights, throwing a ball or doing aerobics. A number of variations exist, including contact sports (contact sports such as boxing, ice skating, rugby etc. ), recreational sports (occasional sports such as table tennis, badminton etc. ), and team sports (for example, soccer, basketball etc.). Sport can further be subdivided into several types: indoor and outdoor; skill-based and talent-based; age-based and gender-based; and performance-based and competitive.

The term “sport” is commonly applied to any form of competitive physical activity. Today, many people generally associate the word “sport” with actual games of sport, including soccer, baseball, softball, Australian football, rugby, tennis, and boxing, although the term “sport” is not always used in those contexts. However, “sport” is increasingly applied in a generic sense to describe athletic competition and the application of skills and physical dexterity in competitive settings. Many other forms of athletic competition also warrant the use of the term “sport” to describe a particular sport or type of athletic endeavour.

One factor which distinguishes athletics from other types of physical activity is that the person engaging in it is not consciously attempting to gain an advantage over another person. Sports are often won through the application of sport specific strategies and tactics, rather than through the simple exercise of muscles and physical endurance. It is for this reason that sports can be distinguished from other physical activities in terms of factors such as the distinction between games of aim and games of action. In aim games, there is no conscious attempt to gain some advantage over the opponent; but in action games the contest is one of achieving a goal or trying to defeat the opponent. This further distinguishes sports and physical fitness from each other, because in goal-oriented competition, the outcome of the game is pre-determined (in a sporting context), whereas in physical fitness competition, a person’s body shape and skills do usually determine the outcome of a particular contest.

The need for a clear definition of the term “sport” as regards to its application to the various different types of athletic endeavour has led to a proliferation of educational resources which attempt to provide a detailed explanation of the discipline. Unfortunately, while such sources are generally useful in providing a basic understanding of the term, they offer no assistance in attempting to provide a definitive definition. Such a definition would be most useful when used in comparing different types of sporting activities and when drawing a distinction between various disciplines within the field. A comprehensive attempt to define a given discipline could then be drawn along with a comparison of all the types of sporting actions and competitions, while allowing for the application of common terminology to allow for the evolution of modern definitions of sport.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been defined by sport as an international association of individuals who participate in sports as a form of competition. The Olympic Games, held throughout most of the world in any part of the world, are the recognised bodies of sport in most countries. Pursuing a definition of sport which includes both participation in sports and its development, the IOC continually strives to ensure that no form of discrimination against athletes from certain socio-economic or ethnic backgrounds taking part in the Olympic Games takes place. The Olympic Charter contains a reference to a “diversity of race, colour and religion” as defining characteristics of a sport which should be kept at the forefront of its application. In recent times the term “Olympic sport” has been applied to a much wider concept of competitive activities undertaken by athletes from all sorts of backgrounds and representing a variety of sporting disciplines, including but not limited to, swimming, basketball, baseball, rugby, tennis and skiing.