There is a certain aesthetic element in sports, but this is no longer the main focus. Instead, the emphasis today is on quantitative achievement. One way to see the transition between Renaissance and modern sports is to look at the semantics of the word “measure.” Before, the word meant something like balance and proportion, but with the modern focus on winning and losing, the term has changed to refer to numerical measurements. The aesthetic component is still very much alive in some sports.
The modern sport began in the late 17th century in England. The concept of a sports record was introduced during the Restoration period. Puritans had pushed traditional pastimes underground, but organized games emerged under the leadership of the Marylebone Cricket Club. Founded in 1787, the club pioneered the development of cricket, as well as rational competition. The Marylebone Cricket Club’s success spurred the development of sports in Britain.
Ancient peoples played ball games, including the Chinese and Aztecs. In ancient times, ball games were not contests, but ritual performances. Ancient Greek and Roman physicians also recommended these games for their health. Galen recommended ball games in the 2nd century ce, but he also recognized their physical benefits. In the Renaissance, sports were secularized and became a form of recreation. While many aspects of sports have remained the same, there are significant cultural differences.