History of Sports


Most sports of today only developed in their current form in the 19th and 20th century, though many take their origins from more primitive sports and pastimes of ancient times.

What is the first sport ever played?

Although it is impossible to know for sure, it is usually considered that wrestling and boxing were the first sports every played. Competitions using the simple mode of human transport, running, would also have been among the first sports played.

Competitions involving hitting, kicking, throwing a ball like object, as well as sports related to hunting and throwing would also be expected to have be played in early times.

There are many sports that have developed as competitions from means of early transportation, such as horse riding and canoeing, and from military activities such as archery.

At the first recorded ancient Olympic Games in 760 BC, there was only one event, a footrace. Later Games included other events such as wrestling, boxing, equestrian, discus, javelin, and jumping. From around the same time, the only sport mentioned in the Bible is said to be wrestling (see Bible sporting quotes).

The most popular sport played around the world today, Association football (soccer), has its origins from China (see Soccer History). There is evidence in China that military forces around 2nd and 3rd century BC (Han Dynasty) played a game, originally named “Tsu Chu”, that involved kicking a leather ball stuffed with fur into a small hole. Like Soccer, no hands were permitted during the play of the game.

See a timeline of significant events in the history of sport.

A History of Specific Sports

  • Soccer (Football)
  • Cricket
  • Golf
  • Archery
  • Badminton
  • Boxing
  • Aussie Rules
  • Tenpin Bowling
  • Canoe and Kayak
  • Surfing
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