Sports have a very significant role in American society. Besides enjoying tremendous popularity, sports also help spread the values of fair play, justice, and teamwork. These values help people build stronger social and racial bonds. In fact, sports have been an essential social glue for many generations. In the early days, sports were considered a way of life, with early Americans emphasizing the need for physical exercise. They encouraged people to participate in games such as running, swimming, and playing a team sport. In the 20th century, presidents also encouraged physical activity.
While the aesthetic element of sports survives in some forms, the focus on measurable achievement has taken over. One example of the transition from the Renaissance to modern sports is the semantic change of the word “measure”: formerly connoting a sense of proportion and balance, it began to refer to numerical measurements instead. In a way, this has helped create a sense of formality in the way sports are played.
The history of sports goes back to ancient civilizations, with the Chinese, Aztecs, and other cultures participating in ball games. Some of these games were competitions and ritual performances, while others were non-competitive. However, in Greek and Roman antiquity, ball games were considered a form of sport, and the Greek physician Galen even recommended them as a form of health therapy.