Sports & Recreation

Physical contests, athletic achievements, and recreational games have long played a part in human society. In both team and solo sports, the human body has been pushed to its limits to improve its performance and to break record upon record. The ancient Olympic Games are an early example of the contests in which humans have engaged to showcase physical prowess. In modern times, sports and games have evolved into a lucrative competitive industry, while other leisure activities, such as card and video games, can be competitive or just a way to unwind or socialize.

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Featured Sports & Recreation Articles
  • Enos Slaughter of the St. Louis Cardinals sliding home to score the winning run in game seven of the 1946 World Series; Roy Partee, catcher for the Boston Red Sox, lunges for the throw from the infield.
    Baseball
    Baseball, game played with a bat, a ball, and gloves between two teams of nine players each on a field with four white bases laid out in a diamond (i.e., a square oriented so that its diagonal line is vertical). Teams alternate positions as batters (offense) and fielders (defense), exchanging…
  • ancient Olympic Games
    Olympic Games
    Olympic Games, athletic festival that originated in ancient Greece and was revived in the late 19th century. Before the 1970s the Games were officially limited to competitors with amateur status, but in the 1980s many events were opened to professional athletes. Currently, the Games are open to…
  • Bob Beamon (U.S.) breaking the world record in the long jump at 8.90 metres (29.2 feet) during the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City.
    Athletics
    Athletics, a variety of competitions in running, walking, jumping, and throwing events. Although these contests are called track and field (or simply track) in the United States, they are generally designated as athletics elsewhere. This article covers the history, the organization, and the…
  • Kurt Browning (Canada) performing his winning program at the 1989 World Championships in Paris.
    Figure skating
    Figure skating, sport in which ice skaters, singly or in pairs, perform freestyle movements of jumps, spins, lifts, and footwork in a graceful manner. Its name derives from the patterns (or figures) skaters make on the ice, an element that was a major part of the sport until recently. There are…
  • The restored manor house and golf course at the Headfort estate in County Meath, Leinster, Ire.
    Golf
    Golf, a cross-country game in which a player strikes a small ball with various clubs from a series of starting points (teeing grounds) into a series of holes on a course. The player who holes his ball in the fewest strokes wins. The origins of the game are difficult to ascertain, although evidence…
  • Sonny Liston on the canvas while Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) raises his arms in triumph after his first-round defeat of Liston in 1965.
    Boxing
    Boxing, sport, both amateur and professional, involving attack and defense with the fists. Boxers usually wear padded gloves and generally observe the code set forth in the marquess of Queensberry rules. Matched in weight and ability, boxing contestants try to land blows hard and often with their…
  • Figure 1: Square numbers shown formed from consecutive triangular numbers.
    Number game
    Number game, any of various puzzles and games that involve aspects of mathematics. Mathematical recreations comprise puzzles and games that vary from naive amusements to sophisticated problems, some of which have never been solved. They may involve arithmetic, algebra, geometry, theory of numbers,…
  • Stanley Cup
    Ice hockey
    Ice hockey, game between two teams, each usually having six players, who wear skates and compete on an ice rink. The object is to propel a vulcanized rubber disk, the puck, past a goal line and into a net guarded by a goaltender, or goalie. With its speed and its frequent physical contact, ice…
  • Chan, Johnny
    Poker
    Poker, card game, played in various forms throughout the world, in which a player must call (i.e., match) the bet, raise (i.e., increase) the bet, or concede (i.e., fold). Its popularity is greatest in North America, where it originated. It is played in private homes, in poker clubs, in casinos,…
  • Figure 1: Rugby playing field, showing divisions and goals.
    Rugby
    Rugby, football game played with an oval ball by two teams of 15 players (in rugby union play) or 13 players (in rugby league play). Both rugby union and rugby league have their origins in the style of football played at Rugby School in England. According to the sport’s lore, in 1823 William Webb…
  • A bullfight during the Fiesta de San Fermín in Pamplona, Spain.
    Bullfighting
    Bullfighting, the national spectacle of Spain and many Spanish-speaking countries, in which a bull is ceremoniously fought in a sand arena by a matador and usually killed. Bullfighting is also popular in Portugal and southern France, though in the former, where the bull is engaged by a bullfighter…
  • 2019 Cricket World Cup
    Cricket
    Cricket, England’s national summer sport, which is now played throughout the world, particularly in Australia, India, Pakistan, the West Indies, and the British Isles. Cricket is played with a bat and ball and involves two competing sides (teams) of 11 players. The field is oval with a rectangular…
  • Walter Camp.
    Gridiron football
    Gridiron football, version of the sport of football so named for the vertical yard lines marking the rectangular field. Gridiron football evolved from English rugby and soccer (association football); it differs from soccer chiefly in allowing players to touch, throw, and carry the ball with their…
  • March Madness
    Basketball
    Basketball, game played between two teams of five players each on a rectangular court, usually indoors. Each team tries to score by tossing the ball through the opponent’s goal, an elevated horizontal hoop and net called a basket. The only major sport strictly of U.S. origin, basketball was…
  • Screen from World of Warcraft, a “massively multiplayer” online game (MMOG).
    Online gaming
    Online gaming, electronic game playing over a computer network, particularly over the Internet. Electronic game worlds have generated billions of dollars, with millions of players around the world fighting, buying, crafting, and selling in a variety of online environments. One of the most populous…
  • Figure 1: Position of chessmen at the beginning of a game. They are queen's rook (QR), queen's knight (QN), queen's bishop (QB), queen (Q), king (K), king's bishop (KB), king's knight (KN), king's rook (KR); the chessmen in front of these pieces are the pawns.
    Chess
    Chess, one of the oldest and most popular board games, played by two opponents on a checkered board with specially designed pieces of contrasting colours, commonly white and black. White moves first, after which the players alternate turns in accordance with fixed rules, each player attempting to…
  • Giovanna Trillini (rear) of Italy successfully defending her world champion foil title against Wang Huifeng of China at the 1992 Olympics.
    Fencing
    Fencing, organized sport involving the use of a sword—épée, foil, or sabre—for attack and defense according to set movements and rules. Although the use of swords dates to prehistoric times and swordplay to ancient civilizations, the organized sport of fencing began only at the end of the 19th…
  • Williams, Serena
    Tennis
    Tennis, game in which two opposing players (singles) or pairs of players (doubles) use tautly strung rackets to hit a ball of specified size, weight, and bounce over a net on a rectangular court. Points are awarded to a player or team whenever the opponent fails to correctly return the ball within…
  • Two Thousand Guineas, 2012
    Horse racing
    Horse racing, sport of running horses at speed, mainly Thoroughbreds with a rider astride or Standardbreds with the horse pulling a conveyance with a driver. These two kinds of racing are called racing on the flat and harness racing, respectively. Some races on the flat—such as steeplechase,…
  • Canada's Ross Rebagliati, the first competitor to win an Olympic gold medal in the snowboarding giant slalom, at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
    Snowboarding
    Snowboarding, winter sport with roots in skiing, surfing, and skateboarding where the primary activity is riding down any snow-covered surface while standing on a snowboard with feet positioned roughly perpendicular to the board and its direction, further differentiating it from skiing, in which…
  • Whitfeld sixCard editor of the London Field W.H. Whitfeld published this bridge problem in 1885. South is declarer and has the lead with hearts as trump. With a sophisticated finesse, South can win every trick. South begins by leading the ace of diamonds, which, depending on what the opponents discard, opens a possible finesse of North's jack of diamonds. Next, South passes the lead to North with a spade that North trumps. North then leads the last heart, and South discards the 10 of clubs. With the lead of the last trump and then the ace of clubs, the defenders are presented with an insurmountable dilemma. East must hold two diamonds or South takes the last two tricks in the suit by discarding a spade. However, in order to hold on to two diamonds, East must discard the jack of spades, which in turn would force West to hold the queen of spades. Since West also needs the queen of diamonds and the jack of clubs to avoid losing a trick, a discard from any of the three suits will allow South to win all of the remaining tricks by an appropriate discard.
    Bridge
    Bridge, card game derived from whist, through the earlier variants bridge whist and auction bridge. The essential features of all bridge games, as of whist, are that four persons play, two against two as partners; a standard 52-card deck of playing cards is dealt out one at a time, clockwise around…
  • The fictional character Mario from Nintendo's Super Mario Bros. video game franchise. Mario debuted as Jumpman in Donkey Kong (1981) before appearing in Mario Bros. (1983).
    Electronic game
    Electronic game, any interactive game operated by computer circuitry. The machines, or “platforms,” on which electronic games are played include general-purpose shared and personal computers, arcade consoles, video consoles connected to home television sets, handheld game machines, mobile devices…
  • Ballack, Michael
    Football
    Football, game in which two teams of 11 players, using any part of their bodies except their hands and arms, try to maneuver the ball into the opposing team’s goal. Only the goalkeeper is permitted to handle the ball and may do so only within the penalty area surrounding the goal. The team that…
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