Sport in childhood. Association football, shown above, is a team sport which also provides opportunities to nurture physical fitness and social interaction skills.

Sport (British English) or sports (American English) includes all forms of competitive physical activity or games which,[1] through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants, and in some cases, entertainment for spectators.[2] Hundreds of sports exist, from those between single contestants, through to those with hundreds of simultaneous participants, either in teams or competing as individuals. In certain sports such as racing, many contestants may compete, simultaneously or consecutively, with one winner; in others, the contest (a match) is between two sides, each attempting to exceed the other. Some sports allow a "tie" or "draw", in which there is no single winner; others provide tie-breaking methods to ensure one winner and one loser. A number of contests may be arranged in a tournament producing a champion. Many sports leagues make an annual champion by arranging games in a regular sports season, followed in some cases by playoffs.

Sport is generally recognised as system of activities which are based in physical athleticism or physical dexterity, with the largest major competitions such as the Olympic Games admitting only sports meeting this definition,[3] and other organisations such as the Council of Europe using definitions precluding activities without a physical element from classification as sports.[2] However, a number of competitive, but non-physical, activities claim recognition as mind sports. The International Olympic Committee (through ARISF) recognises both chess and bridge as bona fide sports, and SportAccord, the international sports federation association, recognises five non-physical sports: bridge, chess, draughts (checkers), Go and xiangqi,[4][5] and limits the number of mind games which can be admitted as sports.[1]

Sport is usually governed by a set of rules or customs, which serve to ensure fair competition, and allow consistent adjudication of the winner. Winning can be determined by physical events such as scoring goals or crossing a line first. It can also be determined by judges who are scoring elements of the sporting performance, including objective or subjective measures such as technical performance or artistic impression.

Records of performance are often kept, and for popular sports, this information may be widely announced or reported in sport news. Sport is also a major source of entertainment for non-participants, with spectator sport drawing large crowds to sport venues, and reaching wider audiences through broadcasting. Sport betting is in some cases severely regulated, and in some cases is central to the sport.

According to A.T. Kearney, a consultancy, the global sporting industry is worth up to $620 billion as of 2013.[6] The world's most accessible and practised sport is running, while association football is its most popular spectator sport.[7]

Meaning and usage


The word "sport" comes from the Old French desport meaning "leisure", with the oldest definition in English from around 1300 being "anything humans find amusing or entertaining".[8]

Other meanings include gambling and events staged for the purpose of gambling; hunting; and games and diversions, including ones that require exercise.[9] Roget's defines the noun sport as an "activity engaged in for relaxation and amusement" with synonyms including diversion and recreation.[10]


The singular term "sport" is used in most English dialects to describe the overall concept (e.g. "children taking part in sport"), with "sports" used to describe multiple activities (e.g. "football and rugby are the most popular sports in England"). American English uses "sports" for both terms.


The International Olympic Committee recognises some board games as sports including chess.

The precise definition of what separates a sport from other leisure activities varies between sources. The closest to an international agreement on a definition is provided by SportAccord, which is the association for all the largest international sports federations (including association football, athletics, cycling, tennis, equestrian sports, and more), and is therefore the de facto representative of international sport.

SportAccord uses the following criteria, determining that a sport should:[1]

  • have an element of competition
  • be in no way harmful to any living creature
  • not rely on equipment provided by a single supplier (excluding proprietary games such as arena football)
  • not rely on any "luck" element specifically designed into the sport.

They also recognise that sport can be primarily physical (such as rugby or athletics), primarily mind (such as chess or Go), predominantly motorised (such as Formula 1 or powerboating), primarily co-ordination (such as billiard sports), or primarily animal-supported (such as equestrian sport).[1]

The inclusion of mind sports within sport definitions has not been universally accepted, leading to legal challenges from governing bodies in regards to being denied funding available to sports.[11] Whilst SportAccord recognises a small number of mind sports, it is not open to admitting any further mind sports.

There has been an increase in the application of the term "sport" to a wider set of non-physical challenges such as video games, also called esports, especially due to the large scale of participation and organised competition, but these are not widely recognised by mainstream sports organisations. According to Council of Europe, European Sports Charter, article 2.i, "'Sport' means all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels."[12]


There are opposing views on the necessity of competition as a defining element of a sport, with almost all professional sport involving competition, and governing bodies requiring competition as a prerequisite of recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or SportAccord.[1]

Other bodies advocate widening the definition of sport to include all physical activity. For instance, the Council of Europe include all forms of physical exercise, including those competed just for fun.

In order to widen participation, and reduce the impact of losing on less able participants, there has been an introduction of non-competitive physical activity to traditionally competitive events such as school sports days, although moves like this are often controversial.[13][14]

In competitive events, participants are graded or classified based on their "result" and often divided into groups of comparable performance, (e.g. gender, weight and age). The measurement of the result may be objective or subjective, and corrected with "handicaps" or penalties. In a race, for example, the time to complete the course is an objective measurement. In gymnastics or diving the result is decided by a panel of judges, and therefore subjective. There are many shades of judging between boxing and mixed martial arts, where victory is assigned by judges if neither competitor has lost at the end of the match time.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Sport
Alemannisch: Sport
አማርኛ: ስፖርት
Ænglisc: Plega
Аҧсшәа: Аспорт
العربية: رياضة
aragonés: Esporte
asturianu: Deporte
Avañe'ẽ: Jetepyso
azərbaycanca: İdman
تۆرکجه: ایدمان
bamanankan: Farikoloɲɛnajɛ
বাংলা: ক্রীড়া
Bân-lâm-gú: Su-pò͘-chuh
Basa Banyumasan: Olahraga
башҡортса: Спорт
беларуская: Спорт
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Спорт
भोजपुरी: खेलकूद
Bislama: Spot
български: Спорт
Boarisch: Spoat
བོད་ཡིག: ལུས་རྩལ།
bosanski: Sport
brezhoneg: Sport
буряад: Тамир
català: Esport
Чӑвашла: Спорт
čeština: Sport
Chavacano de Zamboanga: Deporte
corsu: Sport
Cymraeg: Chwaraeon
dansk: Sport
Deitsch: Schparret
Deutsch: Sport
eesti: Sport
Ελληνικά: Αθλητισμός
эрзянь: Спорт
español: Deporte
Esperanto: Sporto
estremeñu: Deportis
euskara: Kirol
فارسی: ورزش
Fiji Hindi: Sport
føroyskt: Ítróttur
français: Sport
Frysk: Sport
furlan: Sport
Gaeilge: Spórt
Gaelg: Spoyrt
Gàidhlig: Spòrs
galego: Deporte
ГӀалгӀай: Спорт
贛語: 運動
ગુજરાતી: રમત-ગમત
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Yun-thûng hong-muk
한국어: 스포츠
հայերեն: Սպորտ
हिन्दी: खेल
hrvatski: Šport
Bahasa Hulontalo: Olahraga
Ido: Sporto
Bahasa Indonesia: Olahraga
interlingua: Sport
Interlingue: Sport
isiXhosa: Ezemidlalo
íslenska: Íþrótt
italiano: Sport
עברית: ספורט
Basa Jawa: Ulah raga
kalaallisut: Timersorneq
Kapampangan: Pasiknangan
ქართული: სპორტი
kaszëbsczi: Szpòrt
қазақша: Спорт
Kinyarwanda: Umukino
Kiswahili: Michezo
коми: Чожмӧг
Kreyòl ayisyen: Espò (divètisman)
kurdî: Werziş
Кыргызча: Спорт
Ladino: Espor
ລາວ: ກີລາ
لۊری شومالی: ڤٱرزشت
latgaļu: Sports
latviešu: Sports
Lëtzebuergesch: Sport
лезги: Спорт
lietuvių: Sportas
Ligure: Sport
Limburgs: Sjport
Lingua Franca Nova: Sporte
Livvinkarjala: Sportu
magyar: Sport
македонски: Спорт
Malti: Sport
मराठी: खेळ
მარგალური: სპორტი
مازِرونی: ورزش
Bahasa Melayu: Sukan
Mirandés: Çporto
монгол: Спорт
Nederlands: Sport
Nedersaksies: Sport
नेपाली: खेल
नेपाल भाषा: कासा
日本語: スポーツ
Napulitano: Sport
нохчийн: Спорт
Norfuk / Pitkern: Sportii
norsk: Sport
norsk nynorsk: Idrett
Nouormand: Sport
Novial: Sporte
occitan: Espòrt
олык марий: Спорт
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Sport
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਖੇਡ
پنجابی: سپورٹس
Papiamentu: Deporte
پښتو: تکړښت
Patois: Spuots
Plattdüütsch: Sport
polski: Sport
português: Desporto
Qaraqalpaqsha: Sport
qırımtatarca: Sport
română: Sport
rumantsch: Sport
русиньскый: Шпорт
русский: Спорт
саха тыла: Спорт
sardu: Isport
Scots: Sport
Seeltersk: Sport
Sesotho: Dipapadi
Sesotho sa Leboa: Dipapadi
shqip: Sporti
sicilianu: Sport
සිංහල: ක්‍රීඩා
Simple English: Sport
slovenčina: Šport
slovenščina: Šport
ślůnski: Szport
Soomaaliga: Ciyaaraha
کوردی: وەرزش
српски / srpski: Спорт
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Sport
suomi: Urheilu
svenska: Sport
Tagalog: Palakasan
Taqbaylit: Addal
татарча/tatarça: Спорт
తెలుగు: ఆటలు
ไทย: กีฬา
ትግርኛ: ስፖርት
тоҷикӣ: Варзиш
Türkçe: Spor
Türkmençe: Sport
українська: Спорт
اردو: کھیل کود
Vahcuengh: Dijyuz
vèneto: Spor
vepsän kel’: Sport
Tiếng Việt: Thể thao
Võro: Sport
walon: Spôrt
吴语: 体育运动
Xitsonga: Tamintlangu
ייִדיש: ספארט
粵語: 運動
Zazaki: Spor
Zeêuws: Sport
žemaitėška: Spuorts
中文: 体育运动