Sports combine entertainment and physical exercise. To play is a natural human instinct. Hence, the history of sports begins with the origin of mankind.
Various games have been played since the beginning of civilisation. Hunting was indeed a way of obtaining food for the ancient people but it was also looked upon as a game and entertainment. The ancient Indian literature and epics mention various games such as games of dice (dyut), wrestling, Horse and Chariot races and chess.
7.1 Importance of Sports
To play games is very important for us. It enables us to overcome suffering and worries. Games help us to relax and refresh our minds. Games, which involve lot of physical activities, provide good exercise as well. Games help in building a tenacious and strong body. Playing games also helps us in developing courage, determination and sportsmanship. Games needing collective participation help us to develop a sense of cooperation and team spirit. It also helps in developing leadership.
7.2 Types of sports
Sports are of two types, ‘Indoor Games’ and ‘Outdoor Games’.
Indoor Games : Indoor Games are played within a closed environment and a number of them are played by sitting at one place. They include chess, card games, games played with gamesmen and dice, carom, etc. The game known by various names as Kachkavadya or Chaukabara, or as Indian Ludo is very popular among Indians. The game known as Sagargote played with a bunch of seeds or stones, is usually played by girls. There is another game known as Bhatukali (playing house) which is usually played by girls. However, all the members in the family can also participate in it, especially in the mock wedding of a girl doll and a boy doll. It is an occasion of family celebration.
Outdoor games : The outdoor games can be categorised into two types, ‘Indian sports’ and ‘International Sports’. Indian games include Langadi, Kabaddi, Atyapatya, Kho-kho, etc.
Indian games like marbles, Lagori, Vitti-Dandu or Gilli-Danda, Bhingari (whorls), Bhovare (tops), Phugadi, Zimma are quite popular.
The international games include Badmington (alternatively spelt as Badminton), Table Tennis, Hockey, Cricket, Football, Golf, Polo, etc.
Among outdoor sports, running races are popular all over the world. Sprints or short distance running races are usually arranged for 100 and 200 metres.
There are also middle distance and long distance races. Marathon is a long distance running race. Other types of running races are hurdles and relay races.
Shot put, discus throw, long jump, high jump, water sports like swimming competitions, water polo, rowing and sports that combine physical exercise and acrobatics like mallakhamb, rope mallakhamb, gymnastics, etc. are all included in the outdoor sports based on physical skills.
Adventurous games : Ice skating, skiing, ice hockey, etc. are popular games that require balancing skills.
There are many other adventurous games which include rock-climbing, gliding, auto racing – cars and motorbikes, etc.
Sports Competitions : Sport competitions of various types is aworldwide phenomenon. Sport competitions like Olympics, Asian Games also known as Asiad, Paralympic or Special Olympics for disabled people, Cricket World Cup, etc. are organised on regular basis. Also international competitions for many other sports like hockey, wrestling, chess, etc. are organised on a grand scale. In India hockey and cricket are very popular. Hockey is our national game. Competitions of all these games are organised at local, city, taluka, district, state, national and international levels. Sportspersons who perform well in national and international competitions have good career prospects.
7.3 Globalisation of Sports
The field of sports in the 20th-21st century was naturally influenced by the process of globalisation. The international matches of various sports like cricket, football, lawn tennis can be watched on television in any corner of the world. Thus, citizens of the non-participant countries can also enjoy these matches. For instance, the world cup winning match played by Indian cricketers was watched by cricket fans all over the world. Sports fans scattered all over the world have significantly affected the entire structure of sports economy. Fans watch the matches for entertainment, industrial and commercial companies look at it as a good opportunity to advertise their ware. Retired sportsmen also have an opportunity to participate as commentators.
7.4 Game Materials and Toys
4 Game Materials and Toys The means and equipments for the entertainment and education of children are called toys. Clay toys have been found in archaeological excavations. These toys were fashioned either by hands or by using moulds.
Dolls are mentioned in the ancient Indian literature. A Sanskrit play by Shudraka is named as Mrichchhakatika. It means a clay cart.
7.5 Toys and History
Toys can throw light on history and technological development. We can also get a glimpse of religious and cultural traditions through them. As a part of traditional Diwali celebrations in Maharashtra model forts are made. Clay images of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his soldiers and also people and animals are placed on these model forts. This tradition keeps the memory alive of the important role of forts in the history of Maharashtra.
An ivory doll made by Indian craftsmen was found in the excavation of Pompeii, an ancient in Italy. It is dated to 1st century C.E. This artefact throws light on the Indo-Roman trade relations. Thus, toys found in archaeological excavations can tell us about cultural contacts between nations in ancient times.
7.6 Literature and Movies on sport
Publishing of books and encyclopaedias of sports is a newly developing enterprise. The history of Mallakhamb has been recently published. There is an encyclopaedia on the subject of exercise. Some years ago there was a sports magazine named ‘Shatkar’. There is ample literature available in English on sports. Some television channels are exclusively devoted to sports.
Recently, some movies on sports and biography of players have been released in various languages. For instance, the films Mary Kom and Dangal. Mary Kom is the first Indian female boxer to participate in the Olympics and to win a bronze medal. Dangal is based on the life story of Foghat sisters who were the first Indian female wrestlers to win gold medals at various international competitions.
The process of making a movie requires deep study of the particular period of the movie’s story, language, dressing style, social life, etc. of that period. Students of history are well trained to do research of this kind. Knowledge of history of sports is also essential for writing articles in various publications like encyclopaedia, newspapers, sports magazines, etc.
7.7 Sports and Professional Opportunities
Although sports and history appears to be distant as subjects, there is a close tie between them. Students of history can find many opportunities in the field of sports journalism. One needs to resort to history in order to write articles, reviews about sports events like Olympics or Asiad or national and international matches.
Expert commentators are in demand during sports matches. An expert commentator needs to have good knowledge of the history, statistics, previous records, eminent players, historical anecdotes, etc. related to the concerned game. Knowledge of history is useful for them.
Matches of various sports like cricket, football, kabaddi, chess, etc. are shown live on television on various channels. The role of professionals who track and keep the record of these telecasts from various channels has become very important now. The sports channels continue telecasting round the clock. There are many professional opportunities available in this field.
Referees are an essential factor of sports matches. Trained referees are required to pass qualifying examinations. Qualified referees can work at district, state, national and international levels. Government and private sectors are trying to promote sports. There are scholarships offered to sportspersons. There are reserved seats for them in the government and private establishments.