Sports is a term used to describe any activity that involves physical exertion and skill. It is typically competitive, but it may also be non-competitive. It can be a recreational or social activity.
The definition of’sport’ depends on the society in which it is practiced and can be defined in a number of ways including whether or not it is organised, how people describe their engagement, what role they play (player, coach/trainer, referee, umpire) and where the sport takes place.
Some countries and cultures see sports as a symbol of national identity, often evoking nostalgia for past glories or travesties. This can lead to conservative nationalist sentiments as well as xenophobia and even chauvinism.
A more liberal view of sport and national identity is seen in Europe, where it has been linked to political struggles for liberation from tyranny. For example, the Slavic gymnastics movement known as Sokol (“Falcon”) was associated with the struggle for national independence from Austrian and Russian rule.
In modern society, sports have become increasingly globalized, with the establishment of national and international organizations and competitions. The Olympics, the World Cup, cricket and rugby are all popular worldwide and draw a high level of spectatorship.
The sociology of sport is a burgeoning area of academic research. Many universities have centres dedicated to this subject. Sociologists study the relationship between sports and other aspects of society, such as gender, race and age.