Sports relate to a range of activities or games that are competitive and organised, and that aim to use, maintain, or improve physical ability and skills. In some cases they are aimed at improving general health and well-being, and in others at entertainment or leisure.
Sport has played an important role in the history of modern civilization as a means of socialising, and in shaping the development of national identity and culture. For example, rugby games between Ireland and Northern Ireland (the former a symbol of Protestant ethnic identity) and cricket matches between India and England, have often served to strengthen or undermine nationalism.
There are many different kinds of sport, from those between a single contestant to those that involve hundreds of participants competing simultaneously or successively. The result of each competition is determined by a number of judges, usually based on objective and subjective measures.
The nature and scope of modern sports has evolved greatly in response to the growing economic importance of mass media. The rise of professional sports in the 20th century is a testament to this transformation.
Sports have also become a source of conflict, with athletes and spectators often committing violence. While a large proportion of sports-related violence is considered to be legitimate and unintentional, other forms of violence are also problematic. For instance, there is a tendency for adolescent boys to develop tough masculine styles of behaviour that can exacerbate or aggravate other social problems, such as domestic violence.