Sports are activities that require physical exertion and skill to achieve a specific outcome. They are typically characterized by competition or social participation, and may have rules and regulations formally regulated through organizations.
In the past, sports were often played as a form of entertainment and recreation, or to improve physical fitness. However, as science and technology advanced, these activities increasingly became focused on quantified achievement.
Despite the emphasis on quantifying achievements, sports can also be seen as an expression of aesthetic fervour. Gymnastics, for example, was once regarded as the highest form of athleticism, and its popularity was not uncommon in Renaissance-era schools.
Some games still retain the esthetic dimension that was once emphasized in sports; for example, figure skating and diving. The emergence of modern sports, however, was driven largely by scientific advances that sustained the Industrial Revolution.
Athletes and spectators alike enjoyed the dynamism and excitement that new games such as basketball, soccer, volleyball, and handball conveyed. Unlike the calisthenic exercises that were required in early school and college physical-education classes, these games had a sense of purpose and meaning.
Athletes often develop a special relationship with their sport and are often encouraged to stay involved in it throughout their lives, as a way of maintaining physical health and improving mental well-being. Moreover, sports can have an important effect on an individual’s character and relationships.