As a global phenomenon, sports have been commercialized by transnational corporations. They have become symbols of power, prestige, and distinction. They are not only sources of pleasure, but also important indicators of national and global status. Here are some ways in which modern sports have been commodified. A few examples follow. In the United States, for example, Olympic sprinters run races at 5 am in New York City for New Yorkers. Other noncore nations have adapted their sports to the global stage through regularly recurring sports festivals.
While emotions are central to sports, they may also be orchestrated. Athletes’ emotions are shaped by rules that govern the experience of emotion. These rules, or rules-based etiquette, help define roles and forge ties between sport and national identity. As a result, they are central to the experience of sports. To understand what makes a sport special, consider the following examples:
Aristotle’s definition of a sport has changed over time. While some forms of sports still retain an aesthetic component, today’s emphasis is on measurable achievement. Even the prestigious New York Times produces bulky sports sections. In the 20th century, sports newspapers emerged in a number of countries. L’Equipe (Paris) traced its origins to the early 20th century. And as a result, sports became increasingly popular.
The earliest forms of sports have existed since the earliest civilizations. The Aztecs and Chinese, for example, had ball games. While they were not strictly contests, they nevertheless constituted an important part of black African culture. The ancient Greeks and Romans also had ball games. Greek physician Galen even suggested that ball games were good for health. It is a largely secular activity, so it is difficult to determine when it actually originated.