Sports is one of the most rewarding ways to unwind and keep fit. The definition of sports encompasses four main aspects:
- Physical activity
From these aspects, sports can be simply defined as a physical activity that involves the use of skill with an aim of beating a competitor and providing enjoyment to the players.
Entertainment for people watching sporting activity is a secondary aspect of sports definition but it contributes heavily to the success of the four basic factors. Spectators encourage players to exhibit their best skill and beat competitors. A bond between players and spectators is often felt when a player gains advantage e.g by scoring a point. Many players’ main motivation towards daily practice is the desire to please their fans.
Sports has evolved from just a casual activity to a professional industry that provides a living for many athletes today. Pro sports is one of the best paying industries in the world and has afforded players the chance to rub shoulders in high places. It comes complete with the pressures and perks of any other form of employment.
Despite going pro, most sports retain their pristine form and can still be enjoyed casually with mates on a free day. Here are nine popular sports you could choose from to make your career or just a day of physical unwinding:
Table of Contents
Golf is a sport that involves hitting small spherical balls into a number of 4 1/4 inch diameter holes (cups) using a club. The game is played over a surface known as a golf course, with a varying size of between nine and 18 holes. The aim of the game is to get the ball into the hole with the least number of strokes/hits. The balls are usually plastic while the club is made of wood/metal and rubber.
Origin and growth
The present-day form of golf has been around since the 15th century when it was first played in Scotland. There remains an Old Course in the country which is considered by many golfers to be a pilgrimage site.
Golf is played both as a professional and recreational sport and is widely regarded as an elite sport. The United States, The UK and Australia are the most popular places where golf is played in the world.
Players set out with clubs and balls and start playing from a tee box. Due to the small size of the golf ball (~1.6 inches in diameter and ~45 grams in weight), players usually carry several balls with them. They are also allowed to have several clubs which can be used interchangeably when hitting balls across the course.
The game can be played by any number of people either as individuals or teams. Each player plays each hole once in every round.
A golf course does not have a standard measurement. Courses are made more challenging by adding obstacles like long grass and water paddles in the golf ball’s path.
There are three associations governing the sport of golf in the world:
- The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews
- International Golf Federation
- United States Golf Association
- Smaller associations run the sport in specific regions.
Tiger Woods remains the most famous golfer of modern times although his career is now on its tail end. There were the likes of Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Bobby Jones, Ben Hogan and Gary Player before Woods. Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose look set to rule the near future of the sport.
Disc golf is a sport that employs many of the aspects of ball and club golf. In place of the ball and clubs, however, this sport makes use of a disc that is thrown into an elevated target using a player’s hands. The elevated target replaces the hole in conventional golf.
Origin and growth
Disc golf was invented in the early 20th Century in Canada and the country has remained its most popular destination to date. It is currently ranked fourth among fastest growing sports in the US. Much of disc golf’s play remains amateur and casual, but it is gaining traction as a pro sport for both men and women.
Players attempt to get the discs into the target with the least number of throws. Single or double-player teams can take part in the sport. Throwing begins at the tee area and progresses towards the target as rounds continue.
A disc golf course ranges between 2250 ft (675m) for nine-hole courses and 4500 ft (1350m) for 18-hole courses. Discs have a diameter of ~9 inches (23 cm) and a weight not exceeding 200 grams. They are classified into driver, putter and mid-range types depending on their mode of flight.
The Professional Disc Golf Association manages the sport worldwide.
Joseph Mela, Ace Mason, and Tita Ulgade entered the Disc Golf Hall of Fame in 2016 to join others who have been inducted since its introduction in 2003.
Racquetball is a simple indoor or outdoor court game played with a hollow spherical ball and a racket. The game has been around since the 1950s when Joseph Sobek innovated on the paddleball to produce the ball used today.
Racquetball’s aim is to keep the ball moving between opposing teams of one or two players. A team that causes a fault loses a point and/or surrenders service to the opposing side. A game is won on a best-of-three-sets basis, with the first two sets going to 15 points and the third set going to 11 points.
The sport originated in the UK but has spread to all parts of the world, most popularly played in South Africa, Europe, North America, Argentina and New Zealand.
Besides the balls and rackets, the game also uses a court which is 40 feet long, 20 feet wide and 20 feet high with a front wall. The court is marked with lines to define areas of service and reception. There is no net involved and any surface within the court- floor, ceiling, wall- is fair game.
The International Racquetball Federation governs the sport globally.
Racquetball is played both recreationally and professionally. Ball colors have significance in professional play but are not given much attention when playing recreationally. The US open, Asian Championship and European Championship make up the sport’s most popular tournaments.
Tennis is a popular male and female outdoor and indoor sport played all over the world. It has been around since the 19th Century when it emerged in the UK- Birmingham specifically- and has evolved into one of the best-paying professional sports. Serena Williams, Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova, Venus Williams, Novak Djokovic, Andre Agassi, and Roger Federer are just a few of the sports famous names.
Tennis is played using a spherical ball of between 6.5 and 6.8 cm (2.5-2.7 inches) and a racket on a rectangular flat court of 78ft (23.77m) length and 27ft (8.2m) width. The court width is expanded to 36 ft (11m) for doubles matches. A net is fixed across the width of the court at the midway mark. Players have to play the ball over the net and within the court boundaries.
A point is scored when a player faults this rule. The game is played in sets of six points. Each set is won by at least four points and two points more than the opponent. A game is won on a best of three sets, although that varies from competition to competition.
The International tennis federation governs the sport worldwide. The US Open, French Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon Grand Slam tournaments are tennis’ most popular competitions.
Badminton is played using a racket, a shuttlecock, and a net. One or two players on each half of a court divided at the midpoint by a net play by hitting the shuttlecock towards each other. The goal is to make the opponent(s) err in returning the shuttlecock by making it touch the floor on their side of the court or forcing them to hit it outside the court boundaries.
Badminton originated in Britain in the 19th century as an evolution of the pre-existing battledore and shuttlecock game. It has since grown into a professional sport played all across the world. Denmark took over from inventors Britain to become badminton’s most dominant European nation. China, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia and the US are other countries that have heavily taken up competitive badminton.
A badminton court measures 44 ft (13.4 m) by 17 ft (5.18m). The width is extended to 20 ft96.1 m) for doubles matches. The net is placed at a height of 5 ft 1 in (1.55 m) across the width of the court at its midway point. The height of the ceiling in an indoor court should be such that it is not hit by the shuttlecock during a high serve.
The Sudirman Cup is the most popular badminton competition across the world. It is played by mixed-gender teams from different countries within the governing Badminton World Federation’s membership.
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Bowling is a throwing sport that involves aiming a ball at a target. It can be played outdoors or indoors. The indoor and most popular variation of the game involves throwing or rolling a bowling ball towards a set of pins arranged at the end of the rolling surface. The target is to knock down all pins (usually ten) and scores are given according to the number of pins flattened.
Bowling is one of the oldest known sports, owing its origins to ancient Egypt. It has remained a recreational game although award competition is popular among friends and unofficial teams.
The Professional Bowlers Association has managed the sport since 1958. Several attempts have been made to professionalize it since then; the most recent being the introduction of PBA League in 2013.
Arguably America’s most popular sport, basketball is a mini-contact sport played on a rectangular court. it is played on a rectangular court with a spherical ball with the aim of scoring baskets by shooting through the hoops fixed on a board at each end of the court.
Basketball is widely a professional sport but is also played semi-professionally and for leisure. School competitions also form a large part of basketball competition.
Origin and growth
The game was invented in 1891 by American Dr. James Naismith. The game has spread to all corners of the world since the first match was played on December 21, 1891, in Massachusetts. Today, there is hardly any country in the world where basketball is not played.
The standard basketball court measures 91.9 ft by 49.2 ft (28 x 15 m). This is the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) standard but NBA courts usually extend to 94 x 50 ft (28.7 x 15.2 m). High school playing surfaces measure 84 x 50 ft (25.6 x 15.2 m). The quality of surfaces also differs, but it always should support the ball’s bounce.
Hoops of 18 inch ( 46 cm) are fixed at a height of 10 ft (3.048m) on a board placed at the midpoint of each of the wide ends of the court. A basket mesh usually hangs from the hoop.
Teams of five players play against each other over four quarters of 10 minutes each. The aim is to score more baskets than the opposing team. Scoring from different positions earns a team different number of points. The number of players and playing time may be varied in different competitions.
Bill Russel was among the early basketball stars. Michael Jordan remains the legend of modern times. Kevin Durant, Lebron James, Kobe Bryant and Steph Curry are some of the sport’s active superstars.
Football, often referred to as American Football outside the United States and Canada, is a full-contact sport played by two teams of 11 players each using football gear and an oval ball. The gear that includes helmets, shoulder pads, and crotch pads is meant to reduce the risks of heavy contact. The teams attempt to advance through towards opponent’s goals where they score by making a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponents’ goalposts.
Football began around 1869 as an evolution hybrid of soccer and rugby. It has since grown to become the most popular contact sport played in the US and Canada. The game is spreading to other parts of the world but these two countries remain its most popular destinations.
The football pitch measures 120 yards (110 m) by 53.33 yards (48.76 m). The oval ball has a long circumference of ~28 inches and a short circumference of ~21 inches. The ball is inflated to a pressure of ~12.5 psi. The dimensions may be varied for different levels of competition.
A football game lasts four quarters of 15 minutes each but may be reduced for younger players.
The National Football League (NFL) is football’s most popular competition. The International Federation of American Football governs the sport.
Joe Montana, Walter Payton, Jim Brown, Lawrence Taylor, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are some of American Football’s big names.
Lacrosse is a minimum contact sport played by teams using a lacrosse ball and sticks. Players use the lacrosse sticks to pass the ball among themselves with the aim of shooting it into an opposing team’s goal. A goalkeeper stays in goal to prevent opponents from scoring.
The game can be played in four variations- field, box (indoor), women and intercosse- all which have different gear and rules.
The traditional form of lacrosse was in existence as early as 11 AD in what is the present-day United States. It then spread to Canada and remains most popular in these two regions up to date. There has been minimal penetration in Australia and the United Kingdom. The sport is presently played professionally under the watch of the Federation of International Lacrosse.
The Major League Lacrosse, The National Lacrosse League, and the United Women’s Lacrosse League are the most popular professional Lacrosse competitions.
The beauty of sports is that it can be remodeled to fit different modes of play for different types and number of players. All the nine sports discussed above can be used to create fun and leisure, while a number can also be pursued professionally. Go ahead and enjoy whatever sport pleases you.
Improvise and innovate and who knows? You could even emerge with an entirely new sport of your own!