Introduction

Sport in childhood. Association football, shown above, is a team sport which also provides opportunities to nurture physical fitness and social interaction skills.

Sport includes all forms of competitive physical activity or games which, through casual or organised participation, at least in part aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants, and in some cases, entertainment for spectators. Hundreds of sports exist, from those between single contestants, through to those with hundreds of simultaneous participants, either in teams or competing as individuals. In certain sports such as racing, many contestants may compete, simultaneously or consecutively, with one winner; in others, the contest (a match) is between two sides, each attempting to exceed the other. Some sports allow a "tie" or "draw", in which there is no single winner; others provide tie-breaking methods to ensure one winner and one loser. A number of contests may be arranged in a tournament producing a champion. Many sports leagues make an annual champion by arranging games in a regular sports season, followed in some cases by playoffs.

Sport is generally recognised as system of activities which are based in physical athleticism or physical dexterity, with the largest major competitions such as the Olympic Games admitting only sports meeting this definition, and other organisations such as the Council of Europe using definitions precluding activities without a physical element from classification as sports. However, a number of competitive, but non-physical, activities claim recognition as mind sports. The International Olympic Committee (through ARISF) recognises both chess and bridge as bona fide sports, and SportAccord, the international sports federation association, recognises five non-physical sports: bridge, chess, draughts (checkers), Go and xiangqi, and limits the number of mind games which can be admitted as sports.

Selected article

The baseball diamond at Wrigley Field, Chicago
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a diamond.

Players on the batting team take turns hitting against the pitcher of the fielding team, which tries to stop them from scoring runs by getting hitters out in any of several ways. A player on the batting team can stop at any of the bases and later advance via a teammate's hit or other means. The teams switch between batting and fielding whenever the fielding team records three outs. One turn at bat for each team constitutes an inning and nine innings make up a professional game. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins.

Evolving from older bat-and-ball games, an early form of baseball was being played in England by the mid-eighteenth century. This game was brought by immigrants to North America, where the modern version developed. By the late nineteenth century, baseball was widely recognized as the national sport of the United States. Baseball is now popular in North America, parts of Central and South America and the Caribbean, and parts of East Asia.

In the United States and Canada, professional Major League Baseball (MLB) teams are divided into the National League (NL) and American League (AL), each with three divisions: East, West, and Central. The major league champion is determined by playoffs that culminate in the World Series. Five teams make the playoffs from each league: the three regular season division winners, plus two wild card teams. Each top-level team has a farm system of one or more minor league teams.

Baseball is the leading team sport in both Japan and Cuba, where the top competitions are the Nippon Professional Baseball and Cuban National Series.

Selected image

Official photograph of 1899 University of Michigan football team
Credit: Fred Rentschler

Official photograph of 1899 University of Michigan Wolverines football team

Selected athlete

Terry Fox during his marathon in 1980
Terrance Stanley "Terry" Fox CC OD, (July 28, 1958 – June 28, 1981) was a Canadian humanitarian, athlete, and cancer research activist. In 1980, with one leg having been amputated, he embarked on a cross-Canada run to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Although the spread of his cancer eventually forced him to end his quest after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 mi), and ultimately cost him his life, his efforts resulted in a lasting, worldwide legacy. The annual Terry Fox Run, first held in 1981, is now the world's largest one-day fundraiser for cancer research.

Fox was a distance runner and basketball player for his Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, high school and Simon Fraser University. His right leg was amputated in 1977 after he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, though he continued to run using an artificial leg. He also played wheelchair basketball in Vancouver, winning three national championships. In 1980, he began the Marathon of Hope, a cross-country run to raise money for cancer research. Fox hoped to raise one dollar for each of Canada's 24 million people. He began with little fanfare from St. John's, Newfoundland, in April and ran the equivalent of a full marathon every day. Fox had become a national star by the time he reached Ontario. He was forced to end his run outside of Thunder Bay when the cancer spread to his lungs. His hopes of overcoming the disease and completing his marathon ended when he died nine months later.

Fox was the youngest person ever named a Companion of the Order of Canada. He won the 1980 Lou Marsh Award as the nation's top sportsman and was named Canada's Newsmaker of the Year in both 1980 and 1981. Considered a national hero, he has had many buildings, roads and parks named in his honour across the country.

Selected team

The All Blacks perform the Haka before a match
The New Zealand men's national rugby union team, known as the All Blacks, represent New Zealand in what is regarded as its national sport. The team first competed in 1884 against Cumberland County, New South Wales, and played their first Test match in 1903, a victory over Australia.

The All Blacks are the Rugby World Cup champions, the leading points scorers of all time, and the only international rugby team with a winning record against every test nation they have ever played. The All Blacks have held the top ranking in the world for longer than all other countries combined, and in over 100 years only five test rugby nations have ever beaten New Zealand. The All Blacks have won The Rugby Championship a record eleven times (in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012) in the competition's 16-year history. The All Blacks have won over a record 75% of all rugby matches they have played since 1903 (which is amongst the highest in all International sport) and they were named the International Rugby Board (IRB) Team of the Year in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 and a record fifth time in 2011. Fifteen former All Blacks have been inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame; three of these are also inductees of the IRB Hall of Fame, and another player is a member of the IRB Hall.

The team's early uniforms consisted of a black jersey with a silver fern and white knickerbockers. By their 1905 tour New Zealand were wearing all black, except for the silver fern, and their All Black name dates from this time. New Zealand traditionally perform a haka (Māori challenge) before each match, traditionally the Te Rauparaha's Ka Mate.

Selected quote

George Orwell in 1933
Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting.     

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Athletes march during the opening ceremony of the 2011 Southeast Asian Games

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