Is All Sports Athletic?

Sports (or athletic activity) is any form of generally competitive physical activity that, through organised or casual participation, attempt to utilize, enhance or develop specific physical skill and/or ability while offering entertainment to participants, and at times, spectators. In the US alone, there are estimated to be more than 2.2 million registered high school, college and secondary students who actively participate in inter-collegiate athletics. These athletes come from a diverse socio-economic and ethnic background and engage in various sports as a way of enriching their lives. The types of sports vary widely but include track and field, swimming, basketball, soccer, softball, volleyball, tennis, football and hockey.

The most popular sports for kids involve track and field, swimming, basketball, baseball and softball. The physical activity involved often requires specialized equipment, including speed-chute and/or jump ropes, and considerable training and practice to master the techniques and strategy involved. In games such as basketball, baseball and softball, points are scored when a player makes a basket, throw a ball over a net or run with the ball across a court. Points may also be scored when a player hits a basketball free throw, takes a shot, or passes a ball across the court.

Many people confuse sports and fitness with each other; however, this is not the case. There are some people who have a defined physical ability for one sport, yet not enough time or money to devote towards sports and fitness activities, making them not considered “fitness” per se. However, even when you consider sports and fitness within a comprehensive definition, it is the definition of how competitors participate in that sport that determines whether they are “healthy” enough to compete. For example, playing basketball in a defined competition over a period of time may develop muscle strength that would otherwise have been overlooked during regular exercise programs.

Not all competitive sports are contact sports. Some definitions of this type include; sports whereby the participant utilizes only their own muscles to move and perform, without the use of any other parts of the body. Such examples are; skiing, weightlifting, table tennis, cheerleading, running, cycling, fencing, rowing, hockey and racing. Many of these sports can also be considered competitive athletics, requiring both the physical exertion and the strategy involved. This definition may also include; playing a game of tennis while lifting weights, participating in a cycling race while pedaling at the same time, or running a marathon while using hand weights.

Most definitions of this type fail to account for non-sport activities, which is where we begin to get into trouble. Games such as bowling, for instance, requires a large amount of coordination, but bowling does not require one to be exceptionally strong. However, many gamers would argue that, if the game did not exist, then there would be no bowling, as there would be no physical activity involved. Therefore, the term “sport” can be used to describe many different types of games that have little to do with competition. For example, a sport that does not require the player to run, jump or throw a ball could be called a sport, but it is probably not a “sport” in the traditional sense.

The word “sport” is a broad term that encompasses a variety of athletic endeavors. The degree to which the sport requires physical exertion varies with each event. A game that consists of little physical dexterity is not a sport, as it is not engaged in by its participants. However, games that require a great amount of physical dexterity, speed, coordination, skill, and/or physical exertion are usually considered sports, and the word has more than just a single meaning.