Sports are activities that involve physical activity, whether casual or organized. They can improve physical fitness and promote mental well-being. They can also create social relationships and provide opportunities for competitive competition. But what exactly constitutes a sport? There are many differences between sports, but some similarities are present in most. To understand what a sport is and how it is played, a clear definition is necessary.

One common feature of sports is their elicitation of emotion. Fans may feel passionate identification with their team or hatred for their rivals. They may experience feelings of despair when their idol is injured or elation when their team scores the winning goal at the last minute. In some cultures, emotions can also be a manifestation of national identity politics.

The history of sports can be traced to prehistoric times. In ancient China, ball games were common, and were used for noncompetitive ritual performances. They also appeared in Greek and Roman antiquity. The second century ce Greek physician Galen even recommended these games for health. The emergence of organized games led to the growth of various sports.

Sports have a unique role in society, transmitting values such as fair play, justice, and teamwork. Moreover, sports contribute to racial integration. Since ancient times, they have served as a social glue that has helped unite people. Early Americans also emphasized the benefits of physical activity, promoting swimming and running. Similarly, presidents of the 20th century encouraged physical activity.