Physical Confrontation and the Battle of the Body
Sports (or sports) refers to any form of generally competitive physical activity that, through organised or casual participation, aims to use, develop or increase physical ability and abilities while providing enjoyment to participants, and sometimes, spectators. The development of sports involves the application of sport science and technology with an eye to creating a competitive edge, and the participation of a large number of people often requiring skill, strategy and teamwork. Sports have developed through many years, with the first recorded games occurring during the Roman Empire, when gladiators fought each other in heated outdoor arenas. As more sophisticated arenas evolved, with improved lighting, sound systems and crowding techniques, the scope of sports activities expanded, and today there are numerous types of organized sports that people take part in, from beach and water sports to sports at major international level events such as the Olympics and World Cup.
While most sports are predominantly a contact sport, there are also some sports that develop mental and physical aspects to the game, for example, gymnastics and tennis. Many other sports develop physical skills such as strength, speed, endurance, and balanced performance, all of which can have positive benefits to the participant. However, research has suggested that in many cases, physical contact sports do not necessarily promote good health and may in fact be detrimental to health. This is because they cause a number of negative effects on the body, including the development of muscle and joint injuries, abrasions, bruises, tendinitis and damaged joints.
The danger of sports activity increases considerably when one considers the impact of repetitive throwing, kicking and punching. The impact of these activities can cause permanent damage to the spine and can also lead to the development of degenerative bone diseases such as osteoporosis, which can affect one’s ability to engage in sports in the future. As well as the physical danger of sports, another key element of sports is the potentially negative impact of bullying or harassment, especially where younger players are present. Many schools have introduced zero tolerance policies whereby offensive behaviour will not be tolerated, and where children do not follow the rules of the game, they are banned from playing. This policy was introduced in response to reports that many football players suffer from significant and permanent brain injuries due to the impact of constant pounding on the skull.
Sport also provides an environment in which social divisions are lessened, as participants are encouraged to participate with others of a similar sporting ability and physique. Sports activities encourage a sense of competitiveness and a commitment to fair play, as well as the opportunity to build friendships and trust with teammates. As well as building healthy relationships, sports also provide valuable exercise, mental stimulation and the opportunity to build confidence and goal orientation.
The physical elements of sport include participation in competitive matches, throwing, kicking and punching games, as well as more traditional athletic activities such as track and field, basketball, softball, soccer and table tennis. A wide range of equipment and clothing is available to improve athletic performance, as well as nutritional foods and supplements to help aid in recovery. In the United States, many professional sports teams include a medical staff in order to provide immediate medical assistance if the athlete falls ill during the course of the sports event. The growing number of health-related news stories concerning athletes who have suffered serious injuries caused by sports-related accidents is testament to the importance of sports medicine in modern society.
The physical contest of sports often creates powerful psychological responses. Our bodies all perform better when we feel confident and comfortable in our own skins. Physical contests occur regularly in sports and exercise programs worldwide, showcasing the human spirit and exhibiting the acuity of our species. Engaging in physical activities that promote self-esteem, confidence and physical fitness will support the mental and physical growth of children and adults alike.