Sport means any form of physical activity undertaken with the aim of attaining some form of social, economical, or other reward. Organised sport involves sports competition; for instance, golf, swimming, tennis, hockey, racing, and rugby. Sport is often described as “the manner in which people interact with each other” (Webster’s dictionary, nd. ), but more importantly, as “the process by which individuals achieve reasonable goals” (Oxford dictionary, emphasis added). Organised sport may also be competitive, involving teams competing against each other or against the environment.
Sport and exercise are often thought to be unrelated; sport refers to “any athletic activity characterized by strenuousness, competitive pressure, and the use of a large number of muscles or parts”. Therefore, it is difficult to compare sports and exercise. Sport requires skill, endurance, and physical strength, whereas exercise is primarily aerobic and relies on the muscle strength of the body. Therefore, there can be little direct relation between the skills involved in sport and the abilities required in the exercise, although many activities incorporate both aspects. For example, cricket relies on sprinting, kicking, catching, bowling, and running, while football and rugby involve heavy contact, sprinting, throwing, and tackling.
The definition given above includes the term “any activity so arranged that the performance of the action depends entirely on the exercise or muscles” (OED, emphasis added). It therefore seems that it is possible to classify sports as exertion, even if they involve different kinds of exertion. However, it has been argued that sport can be considered as a domain of human action that is separate from the exercise, and to which, in terms of the OED, there is a need to distinguish between sport and exercise. Sport, as this view maintains, includes “any kind of athletic activity that makes use of human muscles in a defined and special way, and in which the competition is won by the colloquial agreement of the participants” (ASH, supra), but exercises are necessary for skill development and fitness, and are therefore part of sports.
Sport and Exercise When comparing sporting activities with exercise, there are three broad categories: Physical-fitness activities that develop one or more specific body systems; motor-sports that use the whole body; and sporting activities that require anaerobic endurance, skill, and muscular strength (ASH, supra). The first three are almost always considered as separate from each other. Some have suggested that there are connections between sports and physical fitness, but these have not been established beyond doubt. Physical fitness includes things like bodybuilding, weight training, and swimming, while sporting activities are usually associated with contact sports, such as football, rugby, and lacrosse.
Skill Sports Sport involves skill, and skill is relevant in two ways. First, it is necessary for the sport itself and second, it is necessary to learn how to do the sport, so that you can use it competently when the time comes. Skill can be developed through practice. Activities involving physical exertion, such as cycling, running, and swimming, are highly skill-oriented. The second category, skill, refers to things that are needed to learn the game or to participate successfully, such as throwing the ball or catching a ball.
Comparison Sport activities can also be compared with other physical activity in terms of the elements that make them distinctly different. Professional sport activities are governed by governing bodies, which establish rules and standards, and set a winner and loser in every contest. Professional sport organizations may own teams, hire players, and set standards of cleanliness and safety. A sport’s rules may be subject to change at any time. Similarly, governing bodies keep a close eye on competitive matches between schools and colleges and between athletes within the same sport.