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Athletics vs Sports vs Games

Athletics, Sports and Games all denote physical activities engaged in for exercise or play.

Athletics is a collective term (not used in the singular) for exercises for the performance of which one acquires and maintains agility, skill, stamina by regular and systematic training and practice usually with the aim of competing, singly or as a member of a team, with others similarly trained, whether for pleasure, to keep the body in trim, to win honor for oneself, one’s team, school, or club, or to earn a livelihood.

  • college athletics include football, basketball, hockey, baseball, rowing, and tennis
  • baseball, hockey, football, and tennis are among the better-known professional athletics

Sports are forms of physical activity, usually outdoor, that afford pleasure or diversion. The term may be used in the singular for any of the various forms of athletics, since whatever the main purpose of athletic activity may be, a certain amount of pleasure is usually derived.

  • football, basketball, hockey, baseball, rowing, and tennis are among the popular sports with those who go out for athletics in college
  • majorleague baseball is a professional sport

The idea of training to develop agility, skill, or stamina, prominent in athletics, is frequently wanting in sports, which may involve so little exertion or be engaged in for so short a period or so infrequently as not to require it; thus, an impromptu baseball game between two pickup teams falls under the head of sport, but hardly of athletics.

So also the idea of competition, usually present in athletics, is frequently wanting in sports.

  • noncompetitive skating, skiing, canoeing, and swimming are sports

The term is wider than athletics, including such activities as hunting and fishing (in which the pleasure derives from pursuit of quarry). Since sports contests are often an object of interest to others, the term sports is applied also to contests which provide amusement or diversion for spectators as well as or often rather than contestants; horse racing, dog racing, bullfighting, and cockfighting are sports.

  • we . . . have every source of amusement open to us, and yet follow these cruel sports

Games (for singular see FUN) are athletic or sports contests, usually those which are of a somewhat artificial nature and therefore require more extensive rules than such contests as rowing, boxing, wrestling, and skiing.

Thus, practically all forms of competition that make use of a ball or similar object are called games (as baseball, football, hockey, golf, tennis, and polo). Although the plural games may be used interchangeably with meet of a competition consisting chiefly or only of track-and-field events.

  • Olympic games

The singular game is applied to few of the individual events of such a competition.