Sports are any physical activity or game, often competitive and organised, that aims to use, maintain, or improve participants’ physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants and, in some cases, entertainment to spectators.
Sports can include many different types of activity, from racing to athletics. Some are played between individuals, while others involve teams of players competing against each other.
In many sports, competitors are ‘psyched up’ before the event and during the game. This orchestration of emotions by coaches and media pundits can be so extensive that players and fans internalize the scripts they are expected to follow.
Sport also serves as a vehicle for nationalism and national identity formation, through invented traditions, flags, anthems, and ceremonies. However, this role can sometimes lead to a conflict with the ethos of sportsmanship that emphasizes taking part and not winning at all costs.
Global processes of sports diffusion involve multidirectional movements of people, practices, customs, and ideas that reflect a series of shifting power balances. This pattern can create winners and losers in the diffusion of Western sports to non-Western societies, particularly as non-Western cultures resist and reinterpret Western recreational pursuits and maintain, foster, and promote their own indigenous recreational pursuits on a global scale.
Sports participation is a crucial aspect of any socialisation process. It is a way of developing a range of skills and behaviours, including self-discipline, teamwork, leadership, and other highly prized traits. It is also a way of developing self-esteem and improving health, through regular exercise.