The word sports has many definitions in different cultures. The most basic and useful definitions are play, game, and contest. Play is the opposite of work; it is an activity with its own goals and objectives. It is voluntary. Sports, on the other hand, are competitive activities in which people take part. Hence, they are part of culture. However, it is important to know that a particular sport can be considered a “serious” sport only when it involves real competition.

History traces the origins of modern sports to the late 17th century. During the Restoration period, sports became popular after Puritans drove traditional pastimes underground. Puritanic reformers resisted these practices and gave birth to organized games. The development of cricket is a classic example of this, as it was first played in 1787. The development of rationalized competition in sports followed the success of the Marylebone Cricket Club.

Emotions play a central role in modern sports. Athletes’ emotions reflect how they judge their performance and what others think of it. While some of these feelings are anticipatory and arise before a performance, others may only be felt during the game or afterward. This subculture has largely scripted these emotions and the athletes’ responses to them. Post-game celebrations and national anthems are among the rituals that require athletes to express their emotions.

While sports began as a religious activity in ancient Greece, they became secularized during the Renaissance. The 17th century Czech educator John Amos Comenius began promoting physical education. In the 15th and 16th centuries, elites preferred dances and geometric patterns in movement. These elites also developed ballet, with choreographers training horses to move gracefully. In addition, fencers from France and Italy considered it an art, and northern European nations emulated these practices.