The cultural and social impact of sports cannot be overstated. Not only do they promote pleasure and competition but they also play a role in identity formation and the invention of national traditions. They are highly dramatic and appeal to all people, and ordinary citizens are emotionally engaged by the discourses they promote. For example, the fortunes of national teams can bind entire nations together.
While there is still an aesthetic element to sports, the emphasis on measurable achievement has transformed the games. One example of the transition between Renaissance and modern sports can be seen in the semantics of the word “measure”. Originally, the word measure denoted proportion and balance. But it soon came to mean numerical measurements. And this shift was not only cultural; it affected the way athletes compete and watched the games.
In addition to these changes, the relationship between sports and mass media has shifted. As sports developed into an industry and the media became more sophisticated, sports and the media became increasingly interdependent. Without the billion-dollar broadcast rights and extensive coverage in sports pages, professional sports would not exist. Indeed, no other cultural form could draw such a large audience, as does professional sports.
Modern sports have their roots in the late seventeenth century. These games were originally non-competitive ritual performances. However, the Puritans banned traditional pastimes and pushed these activities underground. In response, organized games were developed under the leadership of the Marylebone Cricket Club in 1787. The Marylebone Cricket Club’s development of cricket was a major step in the development of organized competition.