Sport (UK) or sports (US) are all forms of usually competitive physical activity or games which,through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing entertainment to participants, and in some cases, spectators.Usually the contest or game is between two sides, each attempting to exceed the other. Some sports allow a tie game; others provide tie-breaking methods, to ensure one winner and one loser. A number of such two-sided contests may be arranged in a tournament producing a champion. Many sports leagues make an annual champion by arranging games in a regular sports season, followed in some cases by playoffs. Hundreds of sports exist, from those between single contestants, through to those with hundreds of simultaneous participants, either in teams or competing as individuals. In certain sports such as racing, many contestants may compete, each against all with one winner.
Sport is generally recognised as activities which are based in physical athleticism or physical dexterity, with the largest major competitions such as the Olympic Games admitting only sports meeting this definition and other organisations such as the Council of Europe using definitions precluding activities without a physical element from classification as sports.However, a number of competitive, but non-physical, activities claim recognition as mind sports. The International Olympic Committee (through ARISF) recognises both chess and bridge as bona fide sports, and SportAccord, the international sports federation association, recognises five non-physical sports,although limits the number of mind games which can be admitted as sports.
Football // Soccer
According to FIFA, the competitive game Cuju is the earliest form of football for which there is scientific evidence.Cuju players could use any of the body apart from hands and the intent was kicking a ball through an opening into a net. It was remarkably similar to modern football though similarities to rugby occurred.During the Han Dynasty (206 BC–220 AD), cuju games were standardized and rules were established.Phaininda and Episkyros were Greek ball games.An image of an Episkyros player taken from an ancient stone carving held by the Acropolis Museum appears on the UEFA European Championship Cup.Athenaeus, writing in 228 AD, stated the Roman ball game Harpastum.Phaininda, episkyros and harpastum were played involving hands and violence, they all appear to have resembled rugby football, wrestling and volleyball more than what is recognizable as modern football.As with pre-codified “Mob Football”, the antecedent of all modern football codes, these three games involved more handling the ball than kicking.Non-competitive games included kemari in Japan, chuk-guk in Korea and woggabaliri in Australia.
In early December 1891, Canadian Dr. James Naismith,a physical education professor and instructor at the International Young Men’s Christian Association Training School(YMCA) (today, Springfield College) in Springfield, Massachusetts was trying to keep his gym class active on a rainy day. He sought a vigorous indoor game to keep his students occupied and at proper levels of fitness during the long New England winters. After rejecting other ideas as either too rough or poorly suited to walled-in gymnasiums, he wrote the basic rules and nailed a peach basket onto a 10-foot (3.05 m) elevated track. In contrast with modern basketball nets, this peach basket retained its bottom, and balls had to be retrieved manually after each “basket” or point scored; this proved inefficient, however, so the bottom of the basket was removed,allowing the balls to be poked out with a long dowel each time.
Basketball was originally played with a soccer ball. The first balls made specifically for basketball were brown, and it was only in the late 1950s that Tony Hinkle, searching for a ball that would be more visible to players and spectators alike, introduced the orange ball that is now in common use. Dribbling was not part of the original game except for the “bounce pass” to teammates. Passing the ball was the primary means of ball movement. Dribbling was eventually introduced but limited by the asymmetric shape of early balls. Dribbling only became a major part of the game around the 1950s, as manufacturing improved the ball shape.
The Ancient Greeks and Romans are known to have played many ball games, some of which involved the use of the feet. The Roman game harpastum is believed to have been adapted from a Greek team game known as “ἐπίσκυρος” (Episkyros)or “φαινίνδα” (phaininda),which is mentioned by a Greek playwright, Antiphanes (388–311 BC) and later referred to by the Christian theologian Clement of Alexandria (c.150-c.215 AD). These games appear to have resembled rugby football. The Roman politician Cicero (106–42 BC) describes the case of a man who was killed whilst having a shave when a ball was kicked into a barber’s shop. Roman ball games already knew the air-filled ball, the follis.Episkyros is recognised as an early form of football by FIFA
In 1871, English clubs met to form the Rugby Football Union (RFU). In 1892, after charges of professionalism (compensation of team members) were made against some clubs for paying players for missing work, the Northern Rugby Football Union, usually called the Northern Union (NU), was formed.The existing rugby union authorities responded by issuing sanctions against the clubs, players, and officials involved in the new organization. After the schism, the separate clubs were named “rugby league” and “rugby union”.
On February 9, 1895, in Holyoke, Massachusetts (USA), William G. Morgan, a YMCA physical education director, created a new game called Mintonette as a pastime to be played (preferably) indoors and by any number of players. The game took some of its characteristics from tennis and handball. Another indoor sport, basketball, was catching on in the area, having been invented just ten miles (sixteen kilometers) away in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, only four years before. Mintonette was designed to be an indoor sport, less rough than basketball, for older members of the YMCA, while still requiring a bit of athletic effort.
The first rules, written down by William G Morgan, called for a net 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) high, a 25 ft × 50 ft (7.6 m × 15.2 m) court, and any number of players. A match was composed of nine innings with three serves for each team in each inning, and no limit to the number of ball contacts for each team before sending the ball to the opponents’ court. In case of a serving error, a second try was allowed. Hitting the ball into the net was considered a foul (with loss of the point or a side-out)—except in the case of the first-try serve.
After an observer, Alfred Halstead, noticed the volleying nature of the game at its first exhibition match in 1896, played at the International YMCA Training School (now called Springfield College), the game quickly became known as volleyball (it was originally spelled as two words: “volley ball”). Volleyball rules were slightly modified by the International YMCA Training School and the game spread around the country to various YMCAs
There is evidence of ancient Roman women playing a version of handball called expulsim ludere.There are records of handball-like games in medieval France, and among the Inuit in Greenland, in the Middle Ages. By the 19th century, there existed similar games of håndbold from Denmark, házená in the Czech Republic, hádzaná in Slovakia, gandbol in Ukraine, and torball in Germany.
The team handball game of today was codified at the end of the 19th century in northern Europe—primarily in Denmark, Germany, Norway and Sweden. The first written set of team handball rules was published in 1906 by the Danish gym teacher, lieutenant and Olympic medalist Holger Nielsen from Ordrup grammar school north of Copenhagen. The modern set of rules was published on 29 October 1917 by Max Heiser, Karl Schelenz, and Erich Konigh from Germany. After 1919 these rules were improved by Karl Schelenz. The first international games were played under these rules, between Germany and Belgium for men in 1925 and between Germany and Austria for women in 1930.
In 1926, the Congress of the International Amateur Athletics Federation nominated a committee to draw up international rules for field handball. The International Amateur Handball Federation was formed in 1928, and the International Handball Federation was formed in 1946.
Men’s field handball was played at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. During the next several decades, indoor handball flourished and evolved in the Scandinavian countries. The sport re-emerged onto the world stage as team handball for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. Women’s team handball was added at the 1976 Summer Olympics. Due to its popularity in the region, the Eastern European countries that refined the event became the dominant force in the sport when it was reintroduced.
The International Handball Federation organised the men’s world championship in 1938 and every 4 (sometimes 3) years from World War II to 1995. Since the 1995 world championship in Iceland, the competition has been every two years. The women’s world championship has been played since 1957. The IHF also organizes women’s and men’s junior world championships. By July 2009, the IHF listed 166 member federations – approximately 795,000 teams and 19 million players.
The history of water polo as a team sport began as a demonstration of strength and swimming skill in late 19th century England and Scotland, where water sports and racing exhibitions were a feature of county fairs and festivals. Men’s water polo was among the first team sports introduced at the modern Olympic games in 1900. Water polo is now popular in many countries around the world, notably Europe (particularly in Serbia, Russia, Croatia, Italy, Montenegro, Greece and Hungary), the United States, Canada and Australia. The present-day game involves teams of seven players (plus up to six substitutes), with a water polo ball similar in size to a soccer ball but constructed of waterproof nylon.
One of the earliest recorded antecedents of the modern game of Water Polo was a game of water ‘hand-ball’ played at Bournemouth on 13 July 1876.This was a game between 12 members of the Premier Rowing Club, with goals being marked by four flags placed in the water near to the midpoint of Bournemouth Pier. The game started at 6.00pm in the evening and lasted for 15 minutes (when the ball burst) watched by a large crowd; with plans being made for play on a larger scale the following week.
The rules of water polo were originally developed in the late nineteenth century in Great Britain by William Wilson. Wilson is believed to have been the First Baths Master of the Arlington Baths Club in Glasgow. The first games of ‘aquatic football’ were played at the Arlington in the late 1800s (the Club was founded in 1870), with a ball constructed of India rubber. This “water rugby” came to be called “water polo” based on the English pronunciation of the Balti word for ball, pulu.Early play allowed brute strength, wrestling and holding opposing players underwater to recover the ball; the goalie stood outside the playing area and defended the goal by jumping in on any opponent attempting to score by placing the ball on the deck.
Athletic contests in running, walking, jumping and throwing are among the oldest of all sports and their roots are prehistoric.Athletics events were depicted in the Ancient Egyptian tombs in Saqqara, with illustrations of running at the Heb Sed festival and high jumping appearing in tombs from as early as of 2250 BC.The Tailteann Games were an ancient Celtic festival in Ireland, founded around 1800 BC, and the thirty-day meeting included running and stone-throwing among its sporting events. The original and only event at the first Olympics in 776 BC was a stadium-length running event known as the stadion. This later expanded to include throwing and jumping events within the ancient pentathlon. Athletics competitions also took place at other Panhellenic Games, which were founded later around 500 BC.
The Cotswold Olimpick Games, a sports festival which emerged in 17th century England, also featured athletics in the form of sledgehammer throwing contests.Annually, from 1796 to 1798, L’Olympiade de la République was held in revolutionary France, and is an early forerunner to the modern summer Olympic Games. The premier event of this competition was a running event, but various ancient Greek disciplines were also on display. The 1796 Olympiade marked the introduction of the metric system into the sport.
Strongmen would perform various feats of strength such as the bent press (not to be confused with the bench press, which did not exist at the time), supporting large amounts of weight held overhead at arm’s length, steel bending, chain breaking, etc. Large amounts of wrist, hand, and tendon strength were required for these feats, as well as prodigious oblique strength.
In the late 20th century the term strongman changed to describe one who competes in strength athletics – a more modern eclectic strength competition in which competitors lift rocks, tote refrigerators, pull trains, walk while towing an eighteen wheel truck behind them, etc. The most famous competition of this type is World’s Strongest Man and the “World’s Strongest Man Super Series”, however many countries hold national-level competitions.
In recent years, interest in the sport at the grassroots level has skyrocketed, leading to the spontaneous formation of local clubs, loosely affiliated with provincial/state and national associations.
Many sports-specific training facilities have begun to incorporate movements associated with strongman competitions into their general training schemes, albeit with lighter weights used; e.g. tire flips, sled drags, object loading or carrying, log pressing, farmer’s walks and so on.
American football evolved from the sport of rugby football.Rugby, like American football, is a sport where two competing teams vie for control of a ball, which can be kicked through a set of goalposts or run into the opponent’s goal area to score points.
The first American football game was played on November 6, 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton. The game was played between two teams of 25 players each, used a round ball that could not be picked up or carried, but it could be kicked or batted with the feet, hands, head or sides, with the ultimate goal of advancing it into the opponent’s goal. Rutgers won the game 6-4. Collegiate play continued for several years in which matches were played using the rules of the host school. Representatives of Yale, Columbia, Princeton and Rutgers met on October 19, 1873 to create a standard set of rules for all schools to adhere to. Teams were set at 20 players each, and fields of 400 by 250 feet (122 m × 76 m) were specified. Harvard abstained from the conference, as they favored a rugby-style game that allowed running with the ball.
An 1875 Harvard-Yale game played under rugby-style rules was observed by two impressed Princeton athletes. These players introduced the sport to Princeton, a feat the Professional Football Researchers Association compared to “selling refrigerators to Eskimos.”Princeton, Harvard, Yale and Columbia then agreed to intercollegiate play using a form of rugby union rules with a modified scoring system.These schools formed the Intercollegiate Football Association, although Yale did not join until 1879. Yale player Walter Camp, now regarded as the “Father of American Football,”secured rule changes in 1880 that reduced the size of each team from 15 to 11 players and instituted the snap to replace the chaotic and inconsistent scrum.
The evolution of baseball from older bat-and-ball games is difficult to trace with precision. A French manuscript from 1344 contains an illustration of clerics playing a game, possibly la soule, with similarities to baseball.Other old French games such as thèque, la balle au bâton, and la balle empoisonnée also appear to be related.Consensus once held that today’s baseball is a North American development from the older game rounders, popular in Great Britain and Ireland. Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search for the Roots of the Game (2005), by David Block, suggests that the game originated in England; recently uncovered historical evidence supports this position. Block argues that rounders and early baseball were actually regional variants of each other, and that the game’s most direct antecedents are the English games of stoolball and “tut-ball”.It has long been believed that cricket also descended from such games, though evidence uncovered in early 2009 suggests that cricket may have been imported to England from Flanders.
The earliest known reference to baseball is in a 1744 British publication, A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, by John Newbery. It contains a rhymed description of “base-ball” and a woodcut that shows a field set-up somewhat similar to the modern game—though in a triangular rather than diamond configuration, and with posts instead of ground-level bases.David Block discovered that the first recorded game of “Bass-Ball” took place in 1749 in Surrey, and featured the Prince of Wales as a player.William Bray, an English lawyer, recorded a game of baseball on Easter Monday 1755 in Guildford, Surrey.This early form of the game was apparently brought to Canada by English immigrants. Rounders was also brought to the USA by Canadians of both British and Irish ancestry. The first known American reference to baseball appears in a 1791 Pittsfield, Massachusetts, town bylaw prohibiting the playing of the game near the town’s new meeting house.By 1796, a version of the game was well-known enough to earn a mention in a German scholar’s book on popular pastimes. As described by Johann Gutsmuths, “englische Base-ball” involved a contest between two teams, in which “the batter has three attempts to hit the ball while at the home plate.” Only one out was required to retire a side.