Sport has long been associated with competition, but it has also been a source of fun and relaxation for many people. In premodern societies, boys were encouraged to participate in sports, primarily to prepare them for adult roles. Meanwhile, girls were encouraged to play noncompetitive games and stay home to raise children. Although boys still outnumber girls in modern societies, the gender gap is decreasing. European sports are organized by private clubs, while North American sports are dominated by intercollegiate teams.
While the aesthetic element of sports survives in many disciplines, the emphasis on quantitative achievement has driven the modern sport scene. For example, the word “measure” used to connote a sense of proportion and balance, but later began to refer to numerical measurements. As a result, many sports have incorporated some form of scoring, including using points or goals.
The international order of sports is complicated, and is often influenced by national political and economic factors. Nations can be grouped into core, semiperipheral, and peripheral sports blocs based on their economic, political, and cultural factors. The core of the sports world includes the United States, Russia, Australia, and South Korea.
Participation in sports tends to decline as individuals grow older. The reasons include added responsibilities, parenthood, and the physical decline of the body. However, the strongest predictor of lifelong involvement in sports is early socialization. If a person dislikes sports as a child, they are unlikely to continue to be involved in it as an adult. This trend may be reversed, however, for elite athletes.