The Sports Pyramid

What is it?

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To define the four main elements of all human activity, the sport pyramid has been created to explain the differences and similarities of activities. At the base of the triangle is play, since it is the base of all physical activities throughout life.  On top of play are games, an aspect of organized play. Following games are sports, a specialized form of play and organized sports. At the top of the pyramid is work, that can be any purposeful play, game, or sport that is done usually for compensation. There is a difference between play, game, and sport – a difference that is shown in flying a kite (play), street hockey (a game), and bowling (a sport).

Play is an activity that requires no firm rules and can take place anywhere. The outcome of play is irrelevant- as long as the participant is having fun. A great example of play is the activity of flying a kite. Participating in this activity is easy, requires nothing but a kite (and a little wind in the air). Kite flying, most of the time, does not have any competition and therefore making it a perfect ‘play’ activity.

If your ‘play’ requires physical or mental participation, is governed by informal or formal rules, and requires some level of competition, then it is classified as a game. Street hockey is classified as a game. If you have ever played street hockey, you know that is a physical game and has rules. These rules may be formal or informal depending on the circumstances of the game. The difference between street hockey and real hockey is that without a league, formal governing rules, or competitive standings, street hockey remains a game and real hockey becomes a sport.

Another real sport is bowling. Bowling is a competitive game that requires specialized facilities and equipment. It also requires physical effort. The definition of sport is: ‘An institutionalized competitive activity that involves physical skill and specialized facilities or equipment and is conducted according to an accepted set of rules to determine a winner’[1]. Within my knowledge of this sport, bowling fulfills that description.

The sport pyramid contains play, games, sport, and work. There are differences between each, making each activity unique in some way. From the free activity of ‘playing’, to the more organized play called ‘games’, on to formal games classified as ‘sports’, and finishing with sports to make a living we call ‘work’, all activities are related- yet unique.

[1] Pg. 7, Social Issues in Sport by Ronald B. Woods

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