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What is Sport?

Prepared by: Christine May, Senior Research Consultant, Clearinghouse for Sport
Reviewed by: Australasian Sport Information Network
Last updated: 23 October 2020
Content disclaimer: See Clearinghouse for Sport disclaimer

Any definition of ‘sport’ can be contentious. In practical terms ‘sport’ has been operationally defined by its social interpretation as well as its strong association with physical exertion and performance measures.

What we perceive as ‘sport’ in one instance may not be in another; sport takes on many forms and is constantly changing based upon societal norms, trends, and new directions. Equally important, if a physical activity is ‘not sport’, what is it? And what relationship does it have to sport?

Related concepts

Currently ‘sport’ tends to take on the look of traditional (standard) sports; modified sports designed to attract targeted audiences; or, social sports having various motivations at their roots. Many terms (i.e. sport, recreation, physical activity, exercise) are used interchangeably when they have similar structures and outcomes; and discretely to make a distinction of difference.

Future trends and perspectives

What will Australian and world sport look like in five, ten, or 30+ years? As society changes, ‘sport’—what it looks like and its place in our culture—will also change.

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