The Definition of Sport

Sports are typically governed by some kind of codes or traditions, that ensure fair play, and enable consistent adjudication of a winner. In popular competitive sport, results of action are frequently declared, and in less popular sports, such as ice skating, information can be widely released or announced in sports media. The reason for this is to encourage participants to exercise their best abilities, but also to discourage cheating, or unfair practices. The following are some common codes or traditions in sport and how these are declared or announced.


When there is a conclusion of any competition or series of competitions, there is generally an announcement of the final result. Usually, the scorers are asked to describe their thoughts on their own report card, or on the television screen, or both. A public announcement of the verdict is made in whatever way is deemed appropriate to all stakeholders, including the competitors themselves, the sport authority or governing body, and the media.

A competition or sporting event is an organised activity in which participants take part, or compete, under agreed terms and conditions. Each sport has its own defined definition of what constitutes a competition. For example, swimming, cycling, horse-riding, golf, tennis, hockey, rugby, motor-cycling, surfing and snorkelling, are all fundamentally different sports, but all have one thing in common: the participants must all exercise their ability to move quickly, accurately, safely and efficiently, under specific physical requirements. Sportive events are defined in terms of skill, physical strength and stamina, as well as style, agility, composition, personal attributes, equipment and clothing. Some sport organisations, like the Olympic committee, reserve the right to determine what constitutes a competition.

The concept of sport can often be confused with exercise, but they are very different. Exercise refers to the controlled, measured, effort exerted by the body through movement to reach a specific goal. Sport, on the other hand, involves a combination of skill, sportiness and physical skill. Sportspeople use their skills to beat their opponents, who use their sportiness and skill to outwit their opponents. This may sound simple, but there are many subtleties, including the rules that govern each game, the physical condition of the players, the sportsmanship that takes place during play, and the emotions (anger, disappointment, joy) that may affect a sport’s outcome.

In the spring of 2021, the London Olympics was beset by an anti-Olympics festivity, with a strong message that many people felt had been suppressed throughout the games. A group called “umers who don’t watch enough sports” were blamed for much of the media hype surrounding the games. Their demands for gender equality, cultural fairness and more benefits for women were dismissed by many in the Olympic team, government, sponsors and the general public. One popular slogan used was “No fair playing for the boys”. A month later, Michael Brown was elected to represent the United States in the Olympic Games.

The definition of sport can vary depending on who you ask. In a recent interview, Michael Brown’s mother, aunt and brother criticized the way the Michael Brown story was portrayed in the media, saying that his death was a result of a fight that didn’t really exist. The uncle of former University of Missouri football player and current ESPN commentator Eric Brazell said that it wasn’t about the definition of sport; he was saddened by the fact that Michael’s image was being used by those that didn’t know him as a boy with love of sports who became overnight heroes because of one tragic act. The definition of sport itself is subjective, with some people seeing it as a physical exertion while others seeing it as participation, athleticism or even theater. The way the Brown family sees it though, Michael Brown’s death is a tragedy that could have been prevented.