Sport  

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Dempsey and Firpo (1924) by George Bellows
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Dempsey and Firpo (1924) by George Bellows

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

A sport is commonly defined as an organized, competitive, and skillful physical activity requiring commitment and fair play. It is governed by a set of rules or customs. In a sport the key factors are the physical capabilities and skills of the competitor when determining the outcome (winning or losing). The physical activity involves the movement of people, animals and/or a variety of objects such as balls and machines. In contrast, games such as card games and board games, though these could be called mind sports and some are recognized as Olympic sports, require only mental skills. Non-competitive activities such as jogging and rock-climbing, are usually classified as recreations.

Politics

Sports and politics can influence each other greatly.

Benito Mussolini used the 1934 FIFA World Cup, which was held in Italy, to showcase Fascist Italy. Adolf Hitler also used the 1936 Summer Olympics held in Berlin, and the 1936 Winter Olympics held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, to promote the Nazi ideology of the superiority of the Aryan race, and inferiority of the Jews and other "undesirables". Germany used the Olympics to give of itself a peaceful image while it was very actively preparing the war.

When apartheid was the official policy in South Africa, many sports people, particularly in rugby union, adopted the conscientious approach that they should not appear in competitive sports there. Some feel this was an effective contribution to the eventual demolition of the policy of apartheid, others feel that it may have prolonged and reinforced its worst effects.

In the history of Ireland, Gaelic sports were connected with cultural nationalism. Until the mid-20th century a person could have been banned from playing Gaelic football, hurling, or other sports administered by the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) if she/he played or supported Association football, or other games seen to be of British origin. Until recently the GAA continued to ban the playing of football and rugby union at Gaelic venues. This ban, also known as Rule 42, is still enforced, but was modified to allow football and rugby to be played in Croke Park while Lansdowne Road was redeveloped into Aviva Stadium. Until recently, under Rule 21, the GAA also banned members of the British security forces and members of the RUC from playing Gaelic games, but the advent of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 led to the eventual removal of the ban.

Nationalism is often evident in the pursuit of sport, or in its reporting: people compete in national teams, or commentators and audiences can adopt a partisan view. On occasion, such tensions can lead to violent confrontation among players or spectators within and beyond the sporting venue, as in the Football War. These trends are seen by many as contrary to the fundamental ethos of sport being carried on for its own sake and for the enjoyment of its participants.

A very famous case when sport and politics collided was the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Masked men entered the hotel of the Israeli olympic team and killed many of their men. This was known as the Munich massacre.

A study of US elections has shown that the result of sports events can affect the results. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that when the home team wins the game before the election, the incumbent candidates can increase their share of the vote by 1.5 percent. A loss had the opposite effect, and the effect is greater for higher-profile teams or unexpected wins and losses. Also, when Washington Redskins win their final game before an election, then the incumbent President is more likely to win, and if the Redskins lose, then the opposition candidate is more likely to win; this has become known as the Redskins Rule.

As a means of controlling and subduing populations

Étienne de La Boétie, in his essay Discourse on Voluntary Servitude describes athletic spectacles as means for tyrants to control their subjects by distracting them.

Do not imagine that there is any bird more easily caught by decoy, nor any fish sooner fixed on the hook by wormy bait, than are all these poor fools neatly tricked into servitude by the slightest feather passed, so to speak, before their mouths. Truly it is a marvelous thing that they let themselves be caught so quickly at the slightest tickling of their fancy. Plays, farces, spectacles, gladiators, strange beasts, medals, pictures, and other such opiates, these were for ancient peoples the bait toward slavery, the price of their liberty, the instruments of tyranny. By these practices and enticements the ancient dictators so successfully lulled their subjects under the yoke, that the stupefied peoples, fascinated by the pastimes and vain pleasures flashed before their eyes, learned subservience as naïvely, but not so creditably, as little children learn to read by looking at bright picture books. --Étienne de La Boétie, Discourse on Voluntary Servitude (1549), Part 2

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Sport" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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