GAME RULES FOR SPORTS AND HOW TO PLAY
Sports can get complicated. But here at GameRules.com, it’s our mission to help you learn about all of the world’s sports – even those convoluted sports with team rules that span several pages in official documents! From incredibly physical sports that may leave bruises all around your body to less intense sports that require minimal body movement, let’s learn about these exciting sports around the world.
There are around 200 sports that are internationally recognized, but there are literally thousands of sports that are played worldwide. Of course, we will provide all of the general rules for the most popular sports, but have you ever wondered about the rules for lesser-known sports? Whether you or your child want to play these sports or you’re simply just curious, discover all the fun sports here!
A BRIEF HISTORY OF SPORTS
Sports as we know them today didn’t really surface until the invention of the Olympic Games in 776 BC. But in reality, people were playing sports for thousands of years before organized sports came to fruition (the ultimate pre game). Our ancestors were hunting, fishing, running, and some even enjoyed archery. In fact, if you go all the way back to 5000 BC, you might even find the Chinese playing a game akin to soccer called “Tsu Chu”!
However, sports really came into being for us modern humans with the first recorded Olympic Games held in Athens. This spectacle was a sporting and social event where athletes competed for a crown of leaves, called olive wreaths, instead of medals. In these Olympic Games, athletes competed in boxing, running, horse racing, wrestling, chariot racing, and the pentathlon (where the athletes competed in five athletic events, including the long jump, javelin throw, and discus throw). As you can tell, many of these sports are still played today, albeit with evolved rules!
Other sports you may be familiar with started surfacing over the course of human history. Golf first came into being in the 1500s, and cricket was first mentioned in the 1600s. And though lacrosse was first played centuries ago by Native Americans, modern lacrosse games were first played in the 1800s.
The 1800s was a huge time for sports, with the rules for some of the most popular sports today officialized for the first time: American football, ice hockey, rugby, and tennis, to name a few!
WHY PLAY SPORTS?
Sports are a huge part of our human culture, but why play these organized games in the first place? Here are the top four reasons why:
- Teamwork – Having a common goal with your teams makes you a better team player and helps you to develop your problem-solving skills. It also teaches you respect for the opposing teams, coaching staff, and other team players. This is why team sports are really pushed toward children.
- Health – Most sports are active, so playing them can help you maintain a healthy weight. And there’s more of an emphasis on eating and living well. Plus, it’s a scientific fact that playing sports can reduce your likelihood of certain cancers!
- Mental health – As you reach your physical goals, your self-esteem gets a boost. And according to countless studies, exercising can reduce stress and pressure.
- Fun – And finally… Sports are fun! Whether you’re playing a team sport or an individual sport, bringing out your competitive side can be exhilarating and exciting!
A WORD ON SPORTSMANSHIP
A critical aspect of playing and watching sports, sportsmanship is the type of conduct that is expected from athletes and viewers alike – treating competitors with respect even in the face of defeat. One of our favorite sayings is, “if you are old enough to play, you are old enough to lose”, so learning how to accept defeat like a champ is an important sportsman skill. Some of the main qualities of sportsmanship are:
- Being respectful
- Being supportive
- Being positive
- Being willing to learn
Exhibiting these behaviors will allow you to enjoy playing and watching the sport all the more! Good sportsmanship is key to an incredible athletic event.
THE MOST POPULAR SPORTS IN THE WORLD
We’ve determined the most popular sports in the world by the number of fans worldwide. If you’re American, you might be surprised by some of these entries, but if you take into consideration how big the Commonwealth is, it’s no surprise that some traditionally British sports have made the list too!
- Soccer – With billions of fans worldwide, of course, soccer takes the number one spot for the most popular sport in the world. Who knew 22 athletes running after a single ball could be so entertaining?
- Cricket – Cricket takes the spot of one of the most popular sports in the world, thanks to its popularity amongst the Commonwealth nations, such as the UK, Australia, India, and Pakistan.
- Ice Hockey and Field Hockey – The third most popular sport worldwide combines two versions of a singular sport: hockey. Want to know the difference between the two sports? Check out our article on Ice Hockey Vs. Field Hockey.
- Tennis – A racquet sport usually played outdoors, tennis has gained more and more popularity over the years, as tennis players like Nadal and Williams have gained legions of fans worldwide.
- Volleyball – Volleyball is a sport that requires power, precision, and teamwork. Although indoor volleyball is the better-known sport, did you know there is a sister sport called beach volleyball?
- Table Tennis – Table tennis, familiarly known as ping pong, is a fast-paced sport similar to tennis. Fans hold their breath as 2 or 4 athletes bounce the ball across the table to score a coveted point!
- Basketball – One of only two American sports to make the list, basketball is a super trendy sport. While it originated as an American sport, its popularity is rising in Europe and Asia. Many basketball players have even taken their fame to launch some pretty popular shoes too!
- Baseball – Although cricket is its more popular cousin, baseball makes it to the top 10 list at number 8! This game may not be as fast-paced as other more popular sports, but if you know if you’re watching, it can be thrilling!
- Rugby – Although American football ultimately didn’t make the list, rugby is a favorite sport for close to half a billion people around the world!
- Golf – The only individual sport on this list, golf may not be as dramatic as flash as some other sports, but it certainly captivates fans worldwide with some pretty exciting hits!
HAVE YOU HEARD OF THESE SPORTS?
Just because these sports are not as well-known as, say archery or skiing, doesn’t make them any less exciting or fun to play! In fact, we think some of these less popular sports are even more interesting to watch as a sporting event, as they can be pretty unique! I mean, have you ever heard of a sport that combines gymnastics and horse riding, for example? Or have you ever envisioned a sport that involves throwing an axe onto a target?
- One Wall Paddleball and Four Wall Paddleball – These paddleball games involve hitting a ball with a racquet against the wall. Sound familiar? These games are often compared to racquetball!
- Discus – This sport really showcases the athlete’s strength and precision, as the athlete must throw a heavy disk across the field. The farther, the better!
- Axe Throwing – You might have heard of axe throwing as a fun team-building activity or stress-reliever, but did you know this is a competitive sport as well?
- Wakeboarding – A summer sport similar to surfing, instead of surfing the natural waves, you surf the wake of the boat. Athletes turn, twist, jump, and do incredible feats on their board!
- Equestrian Vaulting – Gymnastics and horse riding – this sport combines two unlikely sports into what is known as equestrian vaulting! Athletes perform on top of a horse and are scored on their performance as well as their horse’s.
EASY SPORTS ANYONE CAN LEARN TO PLAY
In theory, these sports are easy. The rules are simple, there’s not much physical activity involved, and you can play these sports even without the proper uniform! But the reason we say “in theory” is that to master these sports (no matter how accessible they are to the average person), you do need a level of expertise that may take years to achieve! So although anyone can learn to play, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll score highly – especially in the beginning!
But as a side note: you never know if beginner’s luck will be on your side!
- Bocce – This classic lawn game can be played anywhere as long as you have some balls at your disposal. Even the youngest children and grandparents can join in on the fun with this simple sport!
- Bowling – Everyone’s played a game of bowling before. The objective is straightforward: simply throw the ball down the lane and knock down as many pins as possible. But playing this well and understanding the scoring system can be a whole other animal!
- Darts – Anyone can play darts, but playing this at a competitive level means a level of precision most players won’t be able to achieve. However, that certainly does not mean you can’t enjoy a game of darts at your local bar!
- Croquet – The objective is simple: hit your ball with the mallet through all the wickets and the peg! This game is best played casually with a drink in hand alongside friends and family at an event.
- Shuffleboard – Anyone can pick up a cue at a shuffleboard court and play this game! Though some strategy is involved in playing this game well, as long as you have good hand-eye coordination, you’ve got this in the bag!
CAN YOU BELIEVE THESE ARE SPORTS?
Some sports around the world are entirely mind-boggling! It’s hard to believe some of these sports actually exist in the competitive world. Some of these sports are so old you won’t believe they still exist, and a few seem utterly ridiculous as a concept!
- Curling – Probably the first sport that comes into most people’s minds when they think of strange sports is curling. This sport is similar to bocce in a way, but to get the curling rock moving, two teammates will sweep the ice side by side.
- Luge – Though luge may not seem as ridiculous as these other sports, when you watch it, you might wonder to yourself: Whoever thought of this as a sport? Most people are particularly perplexed when watching the doubles luge events, as two teammates lay literally on top of one another as they race to the bottom at over 90 miles per hour!
- Bull riding – This sport has been around for centuries, and while many bull sports have been under fire for the mistreatment of bulls, bull riding is still going strong in many parts of the world, including the United States. The goal is simple: stay on the bucking bull for 8 seconds, which is a lot longer than you think!
- Jousting – Any self-respecting medieval TV show or movie will include a scene with jousting. The modern equivalent of jousting involves fitting the lance through rings that get smaller after each round. But with that said, some still play traditional joust in which athletes break their lances by contact with their opponent.
- Quidditch – Yes, Quidditch! This Harry Potter sport was adapted to the Muggle world in 2005. Much like the magic version, the athletes still hold a broomstick between their legs and use the quaffle, bludgers, and the Golden Snitch to score points and knock off opponents!
Everything from the world’s most popular sports to sports most people may not have heard of, GameRules.com has got you! We already cover a wide variety of sports, but we also update our list of sports consistently. So keep an eye out for your favorite (or new favorite) sport rules! And for those with a curious bone, you’ll also be able to find some fun articles that compare two similar sports.
No matter if you’re a student athlete, athletic trainer, or a spectator, look no further than GameRules.com for the sports rules you need!