Many cultures define sports differently. But the most useful definition combines play and competition, establishing the link between these two types of activities. Play is a voluntary activity with goals of enjoyment and self-expression. Competition is not a punishment, but rather a means of competition. While sports are often competitive, they can also help individuals become better individuals. Students who participate in competitive sports tend to earn better grades, exhibit a positive outlook, and graduate at a higher rate.
The definition of sports is broad, and many activities may be classified as either. Golf and cheerleading are popular examples of activities that fit the definition, as are dance and fishing. Some activities, however, are not categorized as sports, but can be considered a pastime. In other cases, they are, depending on the type of competition. A good definition of a sport is the activity that involves competitive competition between two or more participants. It can also include other activities, such as motorsports and equestrian.
Some of the earliest forms of sports were ball games. Aztecs and Chinese peoples practiced ball games. While most were ritual performances, these games were considered a form of sport. In Greek and Roman antiquity, ball games were considered a form of exercise. A Greek physician, Galen, even recommended ball games for good health. As early as the 2nd century ce, women were also given the opportunity to participate in sports traditionally reserved for men.