Sports are a very important part of our society and enjoy great popularity. They spread the values of fair play, equality, and teamwork. They also help in racial and social integration. Throughout history, sports have been used as a social glue to bond communities. In the early years, American leaders stressed the importance of physical activity and encouraged activities such as swimming and running. Presidents of the 20th century, in particular, encouraged Americans to engage in sports.
Today, sports are influenced by mass media. Media coverage influences the sales of team-related merchandise and equipment. Sports are a major source of revenue for the mass media infrastructure. Despite the importance of sports to the American culture, they are not the only source of entertainment. Many spectators resent the commercialization of sporting events.
A number of nations compete in international sports, including the United States and many European nations. Some of these nations are relatively rich, while others are less developed. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the body that administers global sporting events. The IOC and the headquarters of nearly all international sports federations are located in the West.
The history of sports dates back to prehistoric times. Ancient cultures including the Chinese, Japanese, and Aztecs played ball games. Some of these games were contests, while others were rituals. In the 2nd century ce, Greek physician Galen recommended ball games as part of a healthy lifestyle.