Originally from the Anglo-French word disport, meaning "activity that offers amusement, pleasure, or recreation," sport refers to any competitive or recreational form of physical exercise, activity, or game performed for the purpose of entertainment. According to the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF)––formerly SportAccord––the definition of sport is
- the sport proposed should include an element of competition;
- the sport should not rely on any element of "luck" specifically integrated into the sport;
- the sport should not be judged to pose an undue risk to the health and safety of its athletes or participants;
- the sport proposed should in no way be harmful to any living creature; and
- the sport should not rely on equipment that is provided by a single supplier.
Some official sports organizations recognize mind sports as a form of sport. Mind sports are a test of one's mental abilities. Types of mind sports include chess, eSports, poker, and backgammon. Some sports involve players working together as a team, typically competing against an opposing team; sports can also be played one-on-one with individual opponents.
Success in sports is tied to the participant's strength, skill, and technique. Physically competitive sports, especially those played professionally, are often separated by sex or gender––women against women and men against men––to account for the physical differences between the two sexes that may give one side an advantage. Controversy regarding the participation of transgender athletes in sports has risen due to this practice. There are no hard-and-fast rules in sport or law that determine the gender of the team a transgender athlete joins. Several organizations require male-to-female (MtF) athletes to keep their testosterone levels below a certain amount; some require a level under 2.5 nanomoles/liter, while others allow up to 10 nanomoles/liter. As of July 2022, eighteen states in the United States have enacted explicit bans in school sports that forbid MtF athletes from competing on female teams. Only some of these states have similar bans for female-to-male (FtM) athletes.
The first depiction of sport in human history can be traced back to cave paintings found in the Lascaux caves in France from 17,000 years ago, which showed the sport of wrestling––making it the world's oldest combat sport. Other cave paintings portraying wrestling have been found in the Bayankhongor Province of Mongolia from 7000 BC. The Cave of Swimmers, located in the Gilf Kebir plateau of the Libyan Desert section of the Sahara, has cave paintings from 10,000 years ago that are believed to depict the sport of swimming. Boxing can be traced back about 3000 BC to Sumerian stone carvings. In its early days, boxing was a brutal sport in which opponents fought to achieve the most bloodshed. This practice was not limited to boxing: it pervaded many other sports. The Olympics were outlawed in AD 393 by Christian Emperor Theodosius I due to the amount of violence and paganism in the games. They were not held again until summer 1896.
- Soccer (association football)
- American football
- Field hockey
- Ice hockey
- Figure skating
- Horseback riding
- Martial arts
Sport is internationally prevalent throughout all societies. It contributes to national and sometimes personal identity. Major sporting events can attract hundreds of thousands of attendees and billions of spectators.
Top five followed sports in the world
Hockey (ice and field)
Soccer (association football)
- Kentucky Derby
- Super Bowl
- FIFA World Cup
- Stanley Cup Finals
- World Series
- Daytona 500
- Tour de France