Sports is a cultural and social phenomenon that generates strong emotions in spectators. Fans can identify with their favorite team or teammate and can develop intense hatred for their opponent. They can feel despair when their favorite player is injured or elation when a last-minute goal turns defeat into victory. These feelings are a vital part of the overall sports experience.
While some aspects of the Renaissance remain, the emphasis on quantitative achievement has replaced the aesthetic aspect of play. This change is apparent in the semantics of the word measure. In the past, the word measure implied a sense of proportion and balance. Later, it was shortened to refer to numerical values. In the modern world, the word measure is used more frequently to describe the physical performance of a person.
Sports were not uncommon among the ancient peoples. The Chinese and the Aztecs played ball games. Although these were noncompetitive ritual performances, they were still considered sports. The Greek physician Galen endorsed ball games as a form of physical exercise. Even prehistoric hunter-gatherers enjoyed them. A number of these games were played to celebrate fertility.
The Industrial Revolution spurred scientific developments that helped people improve their performance in sports. As a result, athletes began to train systematically in order to maximize their physical potential. In addition, new games were invented to meet the new requirements. By the late 17th century, quantitative studies became an important part of the game and the concept of a sports record was born.