The documented history of sports goes back at least 3,000 years. In the beginning, sports often involved the preparation for war or training as a hunter, which explains why so many early games involved the throwing of spears, stakes, and rocks, and sparring one-on-one with opponents.
The Olympic Games, which originated in ancient Greece as many as 3,000 years ago, were revived in the late 19th century and have become the world’s preeminent sporting competition. The first written records of the ancient Olympic Games date to 776 B.C. when a cook named Coroebus won the only event–a 192-meter footrace called the stade (the origin of the modern “stadium”)–to become the first Olympic champion. However, it is generally believed that the Games had been going on for many years by that time.
Sports are played all over the world, whether as hobbies, careers or as a part of fitness regimens. Various games have grown in popularity to amass a huge following across the world. The rules and characteristics of these games are dynamic and are governed by international bodies. Most of these sports are included in the Olympic Games, where different countries from all around the world compete against each other. The sports are also lucrative industries, generating billions of dollars in revenues, especially in developed countries.
Let’s look at the past, present, future of the world’s top 10 best sports.
Soccer / Association Football
Discovering the history of soccer isn’t as straight forward as you might think. This is partly due to the fact that there were many similar games played long ago which might resemble soccer but are totally not alike. Records trace the history of soccer back more than 2,000 years ago to ancient China. Greece, Rome, and parts of Central America also claim to have started the sport; but it was England that transitioned soccer, or what the British and many other people around the world call “football,” into the game we know today.
The sport of soccer (called football in most of the world) is considered to be the world’s most popular sport. In soccer, there are two teams of eleven players. Soccer is played on a large grass field with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to get the soccer ball into the opposing team’s goal. The key to soccer is that, with the exception of the goalie, players cannot touch the ball with their hands, they can only kick, knee, or head the ball to advance it or score a goal.
The sport of cricket has a known history beginning in the late 16th century. Having originated in south-east England, it became the country’s national sport in the 18th century and has developed globally in the 19th and 20th centuries. All research concedes that the game derived from a very old, widespread and uncomplicated pastime by which one player served up an object, be it a small piece of wood or a ball, and another hit it with a suitably fashioned club.
Cricket is a game that requires physical agility to bat, bowl, and field. Two teams of 11 players each play at one time. A set of rules were designed for the game by ICC. These are the same for both men and women players. The game begins with captains of both teams and matches referee gathering for a toss. The toss winning captain is allowed to elect to bat/field first. This process is the same across all formats.
Basketball was invented by James Naismith in Springfield, Massachusetts. The year was 1891, and as the story goes, Naismith was asked to come up with an indoor game that offered fewer injuries than classic American gridiron football. He came up with a 9-on-9 game that involved shooting a ball into a peach basket. Under those first rules, a single point was scored for a made basket. The first game would have a final score of 1-0. The game of basketball grew very rapidly, with college teams forming leagues within the first decade of the game’s invention.
Basketball is a team sport. Two teams of five players each try to score by shooting a ball through a hoop elevated 10 feet above the ground. The game is played on a rectangular floor called the court, and there is a hoop at each end. The court is divided into two main sections by the mid-court line.
World-class field hockey looks like a high-speed blend of soccer, ice hockey, and billiards. With 10 field players and a goalkeeper, the positioning and strategy resemble soccer. But players pass and shoot with what looks like a snub-nosed ice hockey stick, striking a ball about the size of a cue ball, across composite turf that runs as true and fast as a pool table’s felt.
In the United States, field hockey is almost exclusively a women’s sport, having been brought here in 1901 by the legendary Englishwoman Constance M.K. Applebee. Worldwide, though, both men and women play. Men’s hockey became an Olympic sport in 1908, in London — and is celebrating its centennial this year — while the women’s version didn’t join the Olympic roster until 1980, in Moscow.
Most historians and opinions suggest that tennis originated in northern France in the 12th century (not England as many people presume), making it one of the oldest sports Back then the ball was then struck with the palm of the hand and it was not until the 16th century that rackets came into use, and the game began to be called tennis.
The rules and scoring are similar to tennis but the courts and equipment are very different. The balls are made from cork and the racquets are smaller and wooden, it was also played indoors on a different sized court.
According to Wikipedia, there are only 48 active real tennis courts in the world, located in United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, and France.
England, during the 18th and early 19th centuries as real tennis, declined, 2 other racket sports emerged: the great games of squash and lawn tennis.
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Though for many sports today is just another part of their daily lives, it is easy to forget that just 120 years ago, many of the sports we take for granted did not yet exist, and those that did would be barely recognizable to the modern sports audience. The history of modern sports details an evolution, from games played primarily for entertainment and leisure to an industry rivaling any other in size and power.