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In fact, the rule books for games such as basketball are hundreds of pages long.
As games, chess and basketball are obviously different from leapfrog and playing house.
In the real world, as a practical matter, motives are frequently mixed and often quite impossible to determine. An adult realizes with a laugh that he has uttered an unintended pun.
Unambiguous definition is nonetheless a prerequisite to practical determinations about what is and is not an example of play. Neither action is premeditated, and both are at least relatively free of constraint. There are rules to determine which actions are legitimate and which are not.
Archaeological evidence also indicates that ball games were common among ancient peoples as different as the Chinese and the Aztecs.
If ball games were contests rather than noncompetitive ritual performances, such as the , then they were sports in the most rigorously defined sense.
Collegiate and professional games, as well as such scripted fringe… Since it is impossible to imagine a time when children did not spontaneously run races or wrestle, it is clear that children have always included sports in their play, but one can only speculate about the emergence of sports as autotelic physical contests for adults.
The most useful definitions are those that clarify the relationship of sports to play, games, and contests. Recalcitrant children compelled by their parents or teachers to compete in a game of football (soccer) are not really engaged in a sport.
“Play,” wrote the German theorist Carl Diem, “is purposeless activity, for its own sake, the opposite of work.” Humans work because they have to; they play because they want to. Neither are professional athletes if their only motivation is their paycheck. A child sees a flat stone, picks it up, and sends it skipping across the waters of a pond.
The prophet Muhammad specifically authorized horse races, and geography dictated that men race camels as well as horses. Among the many games of North Africa was , more widely played, was similar to football (soccer).
Cultural variation among black Africans was far greater than among the Arab peoples of the northern littoral.
These rules transform spontaneous play into games, which can thus be defined as rule-bound or regulated play.