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The nature and meaning of sport

Published:Monday | September 21, 2015 | 12:00 AMJennifer Ellison-Brown, Contributor

Sport is about a range of specific activities which involves competition and requires physical conditioning and skills. A good way to define it would be to say, "It is a structured physical activity, usually competitive, that requires complex skills and a high level of individual commitment and motivation". Let's look at what this mean:

· Structured physical activity-structured means it is organised. All sports have governing bodies that set rules and arrange events. It also requires physical preparation to some extent.

· Competitive-all sport have a competitive element, either between individual and team.

· Requires complex skills-skills have to be learned for an individual to become a performer. Basic skills have to be learned first, which are later developed into more complex skills.

· High level of individual commitment and motivation - top athletes get to where they are by training for long hours for many years and often have to make sacrifices. This of course leads to rewards, such as winning, a sense of achievement, prize money or wages, which make all the hard work worthwhile.

Throughout history, sport has played a variety of important function in society: as a form of recreation, as a preparation for war or the hunt; or later as a substitute for war. Some sports such as wrestling, date back thousands of years, others have arisen and being adapted from other activities. Today there are hundreds of different sports and the job of defining what a sport becomes very difficult. However, a number of characteristics that are shared by all sports can be identified.

Common Features of Sport
Most of the world's sports contain the following features:
· Competition between individual or team
· Physical activity
· Winners and losers ( in some sports you can have a draw)
· Rules to ensure fair competition
· A special place to play ( e.g., a pitch, court, or ring)
· Special equipment

There have been many attempts to divide sport into groups. Let's examine a few:
· Game - in this group of sports, you win by out-thinking your opponents, dominating territory, and scoring in some way,( coincidence, anticipation, avoidance),e.g. Soccer, Hockey, Badminton etc.

· Gymnastic - in this group of sports, you win by producing movements which are performed as perfectly as possible when compared to a pre-set standard (movement replication), which are marked by judges, e.g. gymnastics, trampolining, etc.
· Athletic - in this group of sport you win by producing more power than your opponents (power optimisation), e.g. running, jumping, weightlifting, etc.

Specific sports in each of the three types can be analysed by investigating their:
· Structure ( rules and organisation)
· Strategies ( plans made to win)
· Techniques
· Physical demands of the sport (fitness, energy systems, etc.)
· Psychological demands of the sport (skill, anxiety control, goal setting etc.)

Sport can provide the basis for a lifelong participation in regular exercise, and the development of mental and moral qualities, including team spirit, sportsmanship, self-discipline, cooperation, commitment, and competing within a framework of agreed rules. Sport can help channel people's energy and aggression in a controlled and constructive way.

The relationship between PE and sport

Physical Education (PE) and sport are closely linked. Whilst Physical Education is a part of the process of education that aims to improve human development and performance through physical activity and Sport is about a range of structured physical activities, the two shared close relationship.  Physical education curriculum places great emphasis on sport and team games, in an effort to raise the importance of these in school life.
Both are concerned with physical performance and through them health benefits can be gained; there is the opportunity to push oneself physically and discover strengths and weaknesses about oneself when given challenges or competition. However, there are also differences that set the two apart. Physical education is about the development of the individual, whereas sport is about the development of excellence. Sport is often about winning and success while PE is concerned with preparation for leisure and a healthy lifestyle.
Most of our great professional sportsmen and women began their development in physical education classes.

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