Sports are usually governed either by a group of rules or traditions, that ensure fair play, and enable consistent adjudication of a winner. For popular sports, such as American football, academic records of past performances are usually kept, and this information can be openly reported or announced in sports news. However, in less popular sports like ice skating or lacrosse, there is no such academic discipline, so any information provided must be inferred from information provided by players, coaches, spectators, or the like. Therefore it can be difficult for a sports team to meet these standards of sport and discipline. Despite this, many sports teams strive to maintain a high degree of competitiveness, professionalism, and teamwork.
Most sports are competitive games. Competitions can take place at national, county, or even local level. Many sports competitions are organised as part of a marketing strategy by a sporting club, often with the aim of gaining sponsorship or public attention. For example, ice skating has strong links with various companies who supply equipment used in the sport, but without public funding; these companies typically provide equipment on ‘free’ or ‘independently sponsored’ terms. By participating in such events, these companies are not taking part in the practice of sportsmanship, but are using sports as a business tool.
It is important that the participants in sports are aware of the rules of the game, because they allow them to participate safely. The rules of most professional sports committees will outline the exact standards of behaviour that all participants must observe. Therefore, if a participant wishes to participate in a sport with an association, they will need to know the standards applying to that sport.
Most sports involve some type of physical activity or contact, as well as a competitive element. As with any type of sport, the rules of the game are designed to prevent the participants from hurting each other, while ensuring the safety of spectators and sponsors. However, many sports are also competitively based, and participants may use their minds instead of their bodies, or their equipment in order to win. For this reason, it is vital that the sport activities that all athletes engage in are not considered competitive.
One of the largest international sporting organisations in the world is the United States Olympic Committee (USOC). As part of its role as leader in Olympic Sport, the USOC requires all US citizens, male and female, to take an active part in all its sports activities, regardless of whether they are a member of the competing teams or not. This includes participation in running and walking as part of training, in swimming and diving at the Olympic Games, and in gymnastics and track and field. While a large number of American citizens take part in these sports for fun, rather than as a participation in the Olympic Games, the fact that they are still being monitored by the USOC reinforces the necessity for them to engage in these practices.
There are numerous other sports throughout the world that people of every age and gender can take part in. These include baseball, softball, football, basketball, hockey, rugby and softball. The main article in this section looks at the sports requirements for those who wish to participate in the Olympic Games. These are not mandatory requirements, but rather guidelines which have been set out by the International Olympic committee to assist participants of sport in fulfilling their obligations as an athlete for the games.