While many of us think of sports as a recreational activity, sports also have a profound social and economic impact. They foster social integration and promote values of fair play and justice. They also promote physical activity, which is necessary for good health. In fact, many of the earliest American societies stressed the need for exercise, promoting running, swimming, and other physical activities. Even in the 20th century, many presidents have urged Americans to become active and participate in sports.
Sports can be classified into two categories: competitive and non-competitive. Most sports have rules that ensure fair competition and consistently adjudicate the winners. Competition in sports can be based on physical events, such as the time taken to complete a course, or on the opinion of judges. In many cases, the rules are designed to ensure fairness, though the participants are allowed to break them to gain an advantage over others.
Sports have evolved in many ways. While the aesthetic element has survived in some sports, the modern emphasis is on quantified achievement. A transition from the Renaissance to modern sports can be seen in the semantics of the word “measure”. Before the 17th century, the word measure connoted a sense of balance and proportion, but it has since come to mean a numerical measurement.
Globalization is also reflected in the development of sports. Modern sports are shaped by global processes, including the creation of international sports organizations, standardization of rules, and the acceptance of new forms of competition around the world.