Nearly everyone has a desire to get ahead in life. A principal reason
for doing so is to be able to enjoy the fruits of our labors
— our leisure time that we spend with family and friends or
pursuing personal interests that create enjoyment for us.
Participation in sports and sporting events evolved as a
principle aspect of leisure time activity in ancient Greece. The emphasis
was on the athlete as competitor; winners of the Olympic Games were
considered heroes and accorded honors commensurate with that status.
Spectator sports attained a pinnacle of brutal and gory carnage in ancient
Rome, where The Games went on for weeks with hundreds of
animals and men slaughtered. While the Roman throngs had their heroes,
the emphasis was more on the spectacle — sport as entertainment.
Today the evolution of sports has taken another great stride — sport
as business. Spectator sports and sports personalities have risen to
the top rung of the entertainment industry. Nearly everyone today —
worldwide — enjoys watching some form of sporting event. Sports
betting alone accounts for $100-plus billion dollars in revenues per annum.
There is yet another profound transformation taking place within the sporting
environment — sport as true recreation. In the past, the primary
focus of sport was its competitive nature. If you were an active sporting
participant, you engaged in your chosen sport for the sake of
competing against an opponent. When you were not directly competing,
you were training to compete. Today, a combination of health
consciousness, more leisure time and a desire to relax and improve
one’s lifestyle has led to the use of sport as a means by which
people can enjoy their environment while improving quality of life.
Sports such as bicycling, skiing and scuba diving — to name but a few
— while capable of being channeled into competitive forums, evolved
for reasons unrelated to any competitive goal and are enjoyed today largely
for their recreational value.
Sports apparel, once designed and worn purely for its functionality,
has today become a major fashion trend. Some sports apparel, such as golf
and tennis shirts, have even become acceptable at work, while football
jerseys are typically seen at casual events such as parties and picnics.
In an era in which professional sports affiliation is considered by many
as a status symbol, wearing of the team colors is a requirement
if fan loyalty is to be properly demonstrated.
Authored by Kenneth L. Anderson.
Original article published 15 July 2003.