While there is an aesthetic aspect in some sports, the modern emphasis is more on quantification and competition. The evolution of sports can be viewed through a change in the meaning of the word “measure.” The word once connoted proportion and balance but soon came to refer to numerical measurements. In other words, a game of tennis or a football game is an example of an individual sport.
The evolution of sports in the last century has been largely due to the rise of mass media. Sports have become economically interdependent with mass media, which showcases individual athletes and events. There are few other cultural forms that attract billions of viewers – or generate billions of dollars in advertising revenue – as sport does.
As the twentieth century wore on, sport also underwent a process of spatial and social diffusion. The US and other major sporting nations began to develop state-sponsored programs to help their athletes compete on a world stage. At the same time, the Soviet bloc outcompeted many of the western nations. Furthermore, many poorer nations lacked the resources to compete on the world stage.
Transnational corporations seek to sell every kind of product to any consumer they can reach. As a result, sports are also being marketed worldwide. Not only do they provide entertainment, but they are symbols of power, prestige, and distinction.