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Archaeological evidence also indicates that ball games were common among ancient peoples as different as the Chinese and the Aztecs.

If ball games were contests rather than noncompetitive ritual performances, such as the , then they were sports in the most rigorously defined sense.

In fact, the rule books for games such as basketball are hundreds of pages long.

Despite the clarity of the definition, difficult questions arise. It is if one understands the activity as a contest between the climber and the mountain or as a competition between climbers to be the first to accomplish an ascent.

Are the drivers at the Indianapolis 500 automobile race really athletes?

For the Nuba of southern Sudan, ritual bouts, for which men’s bodies were elaborately decorated as well as carefully trained, were the primary source of male status and prestige.

The Tutsi and Hutu of Rwanda were among the peoples who staged contests between females.

One can hardly understand sport if one does not begin with some conception of what sports are.

Other genres, notably sports programming, also experienced substantial growth and maturation in the late 1960s and early ’70s.The most useful definitions are those that clarify the relationship of sports to play, games, and contests. Recalcitrant children compelled by their parents or teachers to compete in a game of football (soccer) are not really engaged in a sport.“Play,” wrote the German theorist Carl Diem, “is purposeless activity, for its own sake, the opposite of work.” Humans work because they have to; they play because they want to. Neither are professional athletes if their only motivation is their paycheck. A child sees a flat stone, picks it up, and sends it skipping across the waters of a pond.Ball games were rare, but wrestling of one kind or another was ubiquitous.Wrestling’s forms and functions varied from tribe to tribe.Hunters are depicted in prehistoric art, but it cannot be known whether the hunters pursued their prey in a mood of grim necessity or with the joyful abandon of sportsmen.