Sports (or sports) refers to any form of normally competitive physical activity that, though involving no equipment, aims to utilize, maintain or enhance physical capability and abilities by using, carrying or handling sporting implements such as balls (and batons), throwing spears, or playing ball games. The word “sport” itself comes from the Latin verb “suscitis”, which means “to join”. In its earliest usage, the term referred only to particular sports, but over time the term has been used to describe any athletic activity involving contact with a ball or other moving object. Today, the term sports can generally refer to any athletic competition regardless of its content or focus.

In its modern usage, the term sport generally refers to any competition involving physical activity that is supervised by at least one of the competing teams, where the outcome is determined by the application of physical tactics, skills, or action. Unlike most other sports, there are very few governing bodies that formally regulate sports competitions. However, in the United States and Canada, major league baseball and American football have governing bodies that set standards for baseball and American football, respectively. The International Olympic committee and the United States Olympic Committee both formally define the disciplines of the games. Professional and college athletic associations also govern various sports.

In sports that require participants to wear protective gear, like track and field events, rugby and ice hockey, and swimming, the wearing of protective equipment is a necessary component of the sport itself. Wearing protective gear can help avoid serious bodily injury during competition, like the impact of an errant ball against the head or the leg during soccer, or the risk of serious or even fatal head injuries in football, when players often collide heads during running plays. Similarly, swimming and diving equipment ensures that competitors can compete at a level of physical perfection that is difficult to achieve without it. As a result, strict guidelines for acceptable and unacceptable performance are enforced by several international and regional sports organizations.

There are many different types of sports that require participants to wear equipment, but all of them share one characteristic. Sports competition requires participants to move quickly, competently, efficiently, and accurately. This requires the use of every part of the body-including the muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and joints-to perform an athletic activity. Thus, the physical activity itself is the physical activity. Even activities performed indoors on artificial surfaces can produce jarring, hazardous effects if the participant is not careful or performs the action in a way that puts his life or others in danger.

Competitive sports make it possible to test participants’ competing and analytical, mental abilities to the limit. While the sport of bowling, for example, allows bowlers to bowl strikes with the ball at such a fast rate that competitors may not see the ball as it passes by, or gauge the spin, speed, or direction, competitors in track and field can time their throws, run with the speed of the throw, or jump for extra points; all of these require a combination of physical dexterity and mental acuity. In other sports, the competition takes place in a highly controlled, and sometimes virtual, setting; the exact movements and strategies are observed and repeated countless times until players become skilled enough to fool opponents and win competitions. The exact movements necessary to succeed in a sport are often closely guarded secrets that only a select few professionals are privy to.

Although the physical aspects of sports involve a level of physical dexterity and alertness, the competitive spirit that motivates the participants also needs to be considered. While participating in a game of basketball or volleyball does not require one to leap to or throw a ball with incredible velocity, participants in this sport have to maintain control of their bodies while using their minds to think quickly and react appropriately. Those who participate in mixed martial arts fights and other competitive matches have to maintain eye-hand coordination and a high degree of mental awareness to succeed. While many sports involve a fair amount of skill and competition, the spirit that encourages participation is much more important than the skill itself. If the spirit is not there, then no amount of skill can compensate.