Etymology and History
“Sport” comes from the old French desport meaning “leisure.”
There are artifacts and structures that suggest that the Chinese engaged in sporting activities as early as 4000 BC. Gymnastics appears to have been a popular sport in China’s ancient past.
Monuments to the Pharaohs indicate that a number of sports, including swimming and fishing, were well-developed and regulated several thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt.
Other Egyptian sports included javelin throwing, high jump, and wrestling. Ancient Persian sports such as the traditional Iranian martial art of Zourkhaneh had a close connection to the warfare skills. Among other sports that originate in Persia are polo and jousting.
A wide range of sports were already established by the time of Ancient Greece and the military culture and the development of sports in Greece influenced one another considerably.
Sports became such a prominent part of their culture that the Greeks created the Olympic Games, which in ancient times were held every four years in a small village in the Peloponnesus called Olympia. Sports have been increasingly organized and regulated from the time of the Ancient Olympics up to the present century.
Industrialization has brought increased leisure time to the citizens of developed and developing countries, leading to more time for citizens to attend and follow spectator sports, greater participation in athletic activities, and increased accessibility.
These trends continued with the advent of mass media and global communication. Professionalism became prevalent, further adding to the increase in sport’s popularity, as sports fans began following the exploits of professional athletes through radio, television, and the internet—all while enjoying the exercise and competition associated with amateur participation in sports.