What are criteria to define a sport as “national sport”?


As long as there have been people, there has been wrestling. Nearly every culture has some form of it used for contests internal and external to the group. Wrestling is one of the most basic sports, and is probably the oldest.

In Egypt, the fifteenth tomb of Beni Hassan has a large wall depicting wrestling techniques. At this point we're talking about roughly the 19th to 20th century BCE.

We have similar evidence of wrestling in older tombs such as Petah Hotep (aka Ptahhotep). It is specifically an ancestor of Kirkpinar, Turkish oil wrestling:

The oldest known proof of the existence of oil-wrestling in Ancient Egypt is found in limestone from the tomb of Ptahhoteb near Saqqara from the fifth dynasty (about 2650 BC) from the same period as the Chafadji-bronze.

In China specifically, there is some evidence that something related to (but probably very different from) modern shuai jiao wrestling called...

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This question was transcribed from Stack Exchange’s sports site, sports.stackexchange.com. Stack Exchange is one of the premier question and answer sites. I’ve re-written the question a little and anonymized the name of the person who asked the question. The original question is here.

Dear Sports Fan,

What is a national sport? What criteria must a sport meet to be said to be the national sport of a country? For example, I think soccer is the national sport of Italy but I’m not sure. Is there a list of official national sports?

Sandy from Stack Exchange

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Dear Sandy,

Your question is an interesting one. What makes something a national sport? There are two answers, one straightforward and one complex and hypothetical at best. Which answer you care about depends on how much you care about obscure laws.

“Laws?” you say. That’s right, laws! There are a small number of countries in the world and states within the...

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Recognition of National Sporting Organisations

The Australian Sports Commission (ASC) currently recognises over 90 National Sporting Organsiations (NSOs) and National Sporting Organisations for people with disability (NSODs). For recognition, these organisations have satisfied the ASC that they have met the eligibility criteria and that each is the pre-eminent body taking responsibility for the development of their sport in Australia.

What is Defined as a Sport?

The ASC has a long-established definition which activities are defined as sports. The ASC defines sport as: 'A human activity capable of achieving a result requiring physical exertion and/or physical skill which, by its nature and organisation, is competitive and is generally accepted as being a sport'. The ASC maintain the final authority for determining if an activity meets the definition of a sport.

To be Eligible for ASC Recognition

To be eligible for recognition by the ASC,...

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There is no clear separation between sport, hobby and game. If you read the definitions for each there is overlap between them.

The definitions of sport include “a usually challenging activity undertaken for amusement “ and “a physical activity (such as hunting, fishing, running, swimming, etc.) that is done for enjoyment”. Those definitions can also fit “game” and “hobby”. An activity can be a sport, game and hobby at the same time.

Some people erroneously believe that for an activity to qualify as a “sport” it requires competition, athletic ability and rules. Though that is one of the definitions of sport, it is not the only one.

Fishing, golf, hiking and hunting fit the definition of sport. In fact when you are purchasing fishing, golf, hiking and hunting gear, you do so in a “sporting goods” store or in the sporting section of a department store.

Then there are activities that can be enjoyed solely for leisure, or competitively. Skiing, fishing,...

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Extreme sports will quench your thirst for excitement

You've probably seen the term "extreme sports" in magazines, heard about it on the evening news, and seen it advertised in sporting goods stores. The term is becoming more and more common as the concept of extreme sports gains popularity. So, what exactly are extreme sports? Read on to learn about this latest trend in sports.

Definition of Extreme Sports

The definition of extreme sports is not very clear. Generally speaking, extreme sports are activities that are associated with an adrenaline rush that is felt by the participant. These activities are often dangerous and any mistake could result in injury or even death. Extreme sports are usually done by individuals rather than teams.

During the 1970's and 1980's, the term "extreme sports" was almost exclusively used for sports that had high risks involved and often resulted in death. The history of extreme sports is a very interesting topic and...

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Is golf a sport?

And if it isn’t, does really matter? Would you train differently for a sport then you would a match or skill?

Everyone has a strong opinion on what is a sport and what is not, and this question has been asked for many years with persuasive arguments coming from both sides.

Lets start by defining what is a sport?

Webster’s dictionary defines a “sport” as, “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others.”

An in-depth list of requirements comes from an article posted on Yahoo which proposed a 1 through 6 criterion for defining a sport.

Using criteria that are evident in the upper echelon of athletic activities is one way to develop a tighter definition of what classifies as a sport. Here are those six criteria:

Criteria #1 A physical activity requiring athleticism
Criteria #2 A competitive athletic activity that directly pits athlete(s)...

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Some countries have official, legal national sports. Others simply have unofficial sports that people say are the national sport. For both groups, I would say the criteria are a combination of these factors:

The sport should have been invented in the country. Example: lacrosse in Canada. The sport should be extremely popular. Example: kabaddi in Bangladesh. If it's not popular, the sport should be "important" in some cultural way and therefore worthy of conservation, reenactment, and reverence. Example: Charreada in Mexico. When possible, the sport should convey something meaningful about the country, ideally in a kick-ass way. Example: Varzesh-e Bastani in Iran.

For unofficial sports, current popularity would be a bigger factor than for official sports.

I wrote more about this topic...

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A national sports team (commonly known as a national team or a national side) is a team that represents a nation, rather than a particular club or region, in an international sport.

The term is most commonly associated with team sports. However, it can be applied to groups of individuals representing a country where regular play is done by individuals, and individual scores are aggregated to a get a team result.[clarification needed]

National teams often compete at various levels and age groups, and have a number of different selection criteria. National teams are not always composed of the best available individual players.

National teams, like other sporting teams, are often grouped by sex, age or other criteria. The most prestigious national teams are often the senior men's and women's teams. However, they may not be the most popular or successful.

In most cases, a national sports team represents a single sovereign state. In several sports, the...

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Sport (UK) or sports (US) are all usually forms of competitive physical activity or games which,[1] through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical ability and skills while providing enjoyment to participants, and in some cases, entertainment for spectators.[2] Usually the contest or game is between two sides, each attempting to exceed the other. Some sports allow a tie game; others provide tie-breaking methods, to ensure one winner and one loser. A number of such two-sided contests may be arranged in a tournament producing a champion. Many sports leagues make an annual champion by arranging games in a regular sports season, followed in some cases by playoffs. Hundreds of sports exist, from those between single contestants, through to those with hundreds of simultaneous participants, either in teams or competing as individuals. In certain sports such as racing, many contestants may compete, each against each other, with one winner.


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We have a huge list of sports which includes some that you may not consider a sport. In order to justify what makes the list, we have to base the inclusion on a clear definition of what makes a sport. Here are some definitions found online:

"An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others" (Google Search)

“a human activity capable of achieving a result requiring physical exertion and/or physical skill, which, by its nature and organization, is competitive and is generally accepted as being a sport.” (Australian Sports Commission, ASC)

"An activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively" (Free Dictionary online)

Sport Criteria

Based on the above definitions, we have identified these three basic criteria that a sport must have.

A sport is ...

a human activity involving physical skill and...
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noun 1.

an individual or group activity pursued for exercise or pleasure, often involving the testing of physical capabilities and taking the form of a competitive game such as football, tennis, etc


such activities considered collectively


any particular pastime indulged in for pleasure


the pleasure derived from a pastime, esp hunting, shooting, or fishing: we had good sport today


playful or good-humoured joking: to say a thing in sport


derisive mockery or the object of such mockery: to make sport of someone


someone or something that is controlled by external influences: the sport of fate


(informal) sometimes qualified by good, bad, etc. a person who reacts cheerfully in the face of adversity, esp a good loser


(informal) a person noted for being scrupulously fair and abiding by the rules of...

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Defining "Sport"

Athletic Management, 16.2, February/March 2004, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/am/am1602/cheerdefine.htm

By Kristina Sowder, April Hennefer, Dr. Cynthia Lee Pemberton, and Debra Easterly

Kristina Sowder and April Hennefer have received Master's degrees from Idaho State University, where Cynthia Lee Pemberton is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Debra Easterly is a Assistant Director in the Office of Sponsored Programs. Pemberton is also a former athletic administrator and swim coach at Linfield College.

The history of educational sports begins as the history of sports for boys. Early on, school sports were seen as a panacea that would reduce the dropout problem, provide an energy outlet for unruly boys, and give schools a public relations bonanza.

Historically, sports for women and girls did not follow the men's model, but instead were rooted in philosophies of participation, cooperation, and play. The...

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