There are several different theories as to where sports were first invented. However, Greece is generally credited with the creation of sports, as the country was the first to formally introduce sports to the world and advertise them as competitive events.
Specific sports were started in several different countries. Cricket and soccer originated in England, basketball and american football were founded in the United States, and hockey was started in Nova Scotia (Canada).
The invention of sports cannot be attributed to one single individual. Instead, aristocrats and wealthy elitists from Ancient Greece and Rome are regarded as the inventors of sports for establishing the first ever Olympic Games. Events were conducted in large coliseums and included chariot races, wrestling, jumping contests, discus and javelin throwing.
There are, however, individuals responsible for the invention of sports such as baseball, american football and basketball. New York native Alexander Cartwright created baseball, while Yale University graduate Walter Camp introduced the first formal set of rules for american football and James Naismith of Massachusetts invented basketball. While several figures were involved in popularizing each of these sports and introducing new rules, these are considered the true founders of their respective sports for devising basic gameplay procedures and pitching their ideas to the rest of the world.
The establishment of sports can be traced as far back as 3,000 years, with the aforementioned inaugural Olympic Games taking place during the year 776 BC. Modern sports that are more popular in today's society did not come about until the middle and latter half of the 19th century, with baseball emerging in 1845 and american football being created in 1879.
Although sports existed for many years prior, they did not become competitive events that were viewed by many spectators until the tail end of the 18th century (1870-1890). Aside from people becoming more aware of the sports themselves, advanced technology relative to lighting and media distribution made sports more accessible to viewers at home.
Listed below are the five countries that play sports the most, ranked in order according to the different sports that are played and the number of athletes hailing from each nation. The most popular sports in each country are also provided within the list.
For a brief history of the most important events in the history of sports, check out the timeline provided below.