What Is Sports?


A human activity involving physical exertion and skill, governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively. Sport is an umbrella term that encompasses many related activities and is constantly evolving, based on social interpretation, trends, and new directions.

Sports are a form of socialization in which young people are encouraged to take part in a variety of activities that promote discipline, self-possession, graciousness, leadership, fearlessness, camaraderie, and the spirit of play and adventure. These conditions can help youth to move through life with competence and effectiveness.

The experience of sport involves a range of emotions, such as anticipation and performance fright. Athletes, for example, may feel butterflies in their stomach prior to a game or may feel excited and happy after winning a competition. These feelings are regulated by the sport subculture’s “feeling rules,” which can vary among individuals.

Emotions in sports also structure the link between sports and national identity, where national values are emphasized or challenged. This is an important social role for sports, and their use by established and outsider groups can strengthen or undermine hegemonic social relations.

In modern societies, boys and young men continue to be disproportionately involved in sports competition. However, there is a decline in sports participation with age as a result of both the added responsibilities and time demands of paid employment and parenthood and the physical decline of the body.