The term sports describes the physical contests that take place for entertainment and competitive purposes. Its definition varies from culture to culture, but a common feature of all sports is that they involve physical activity. This type of activity is usually voluntary. The word “sport” once meant something like “play,” but it has come to denote a more scientific meaning.
In the late 19th century, newspapers and magazines began devoting large sections of space to sports coverage. Even the august New York Times began publishing bulky sports sections. The public’s appetite for sports news grew in the early twentieth century. Consequently, daily sports newspapers emerged in many countries. L’Equipe, for example, is a French newspaper that traces its roots to the early 20th century.
For many centuries, sports were dominated by the West. This era of development pushed Western values into the construction of the human body, including the ways we represent ourselves in culture and the way we feel about our bodies. Despite this, some non-Western sports have managed to maintain their importance and a prominent place in European and North American sports cultures.
The origin of modern sports dates back to the late 17th century in England, where the concept of the sports record first emerged. Puritan movements had pushed traditional pastimes underground, but these new games eventually became organized. The Marylebone Cricket Club (founded in 1787) played a key role in developing organized games and rational competition.