Sports (or physical sports) is any form of commonly organized and usually athletic physical activity that, through formal or informal participation, attempt to utilize, improve or maintain physical prowess and abilities while offering entertainment for participants, and sometimes, spectators. A wide variety of sports exists, from American football and baseball to Australian soccer and ice skating, in North America and Europe. The word “sports” could also apply to non-sport activities, such as horse riding and swimming. These activities are frequently referred to as leisure sports, even though the athletes and participants in them are more often than not engaged in serious competitive matches.
The main article involved in this article considers three main debates concerning sports: sports versus non-sport, sportsmanship versus non-sportsmanship, and respect for opponents and officials. It concludes that there is generally a clear distinction between the two main views of sportsmanship and sports. In sportsmanship, the participants willingly try to perform at their best, with the goal of winning; whereas in non-sport, the participants are generally seen as merely entertainers, with no regard for their actual abilities, who treat each game as a contest to determine who will win. It is this second view that is associated with sports in particular, though most sports, if played competitively, involve elements of both sportsmanship and non-sportsmanship.
As the third main article discusses, the spirit of sports, as expressed by some of its pioneers, goes beyond the playing of sports itself. To determine a winner in any game, the first order of business is sportsmanship, with the participants playing according to a set of fixed rules, following an established and recognized code of sportsmanship. Thus, sports should be played with respect for opponents and officials, avoiding violence and threatening behaviour, which may adversely affect the integrity of the game. It is this spirit of sports that underpins the core values of the game; and this same spirit should guide officials, in different contexts, in every part of the world, while simultaneously providing guidelines for how the sport can be promoted. The spirit of sports, expressed in the core values and principles of the game, provides the necessary guidelines for how people, individually and collectively, may promote the game through participation in a wide range of events and competitions.