Classical And Modern Sports And Perceptions


Modern sports competitions and antique games are very different. Today’s games are purely secular; while the Ancient sports were religious, modern competitions have forty-two disciplines, compared to the six classic ones. Now, men and women of all countries are invited to the competition, whereas previously, a woman of marriageable age could not participate in the sports. There is also a difference between the clothes of athletes today. They wore light clothes (often decorated with the flag of their nation), while the ancient athletes competed and trained completely naked. Obviously, things have changed in some respects, but a number of basic principles and values inherited from classic games are still central to the modern sports spirit and the development of new games. The sport was one of the most important phenomena of the ancient world, so today, the role of games is really ingrained in modern life. Therefore, it is necessary to identify the features that have adopted modern sports and what factors have become vital in changing the perception of present plays.

Historical Retrospective of Sports Changes

Anthropology can provide an accurate understanding of what is classical and modern games. Historians in the 1970s began to argue that the modern, Western concept of the sport is unique in world history and is fundamentally different from the traditional sport of non-Western nations. One aspect of the historical discussions is to try to determine which criteria should be applied to determine sports as ‘modern’ (Besnier et al., 2018). The field of continuous research was the concept of sports activities that measured human productivity. Historian Allen Guttmann changes the paradigm of sports development from ritual to the athlete’s personal victories (Besnier et al., 2018). The nature of modern sport states that traditional play had a ritual character, which disappeared with the advent of industrial society and was replaced by an emphasis on the achievements that athletes can reach in competitions.

The emergence of modern sport is a consequence of the development of empirical, experimental, and mathematical worldviews. Refusing to declare a causal connection between industrial economics and sports, Guttman disagreed with Marxist historians. They argued that the current game arose along with capitalism because it contributed to the capitalist exploitation of employees by keeping workers in physical shape. Henning Eichberg agreed that sports records did not correspond with Guttman’s one-line evolutionary scheme. (Besnier et al., 2018). Therefore, he explained that although modern sport fetishizes the importance of achievement, ritual aspects of sport also continue to exist in the present context.

The concept of ‘traditional sport’ in most of the literature from sports studios actually provided a temporary distance between secular, recent practices of modern sports and pre-contemporary, ‘irrational’ methods. Thus, scientists conclude that traditional sports are based on superstitions and religious beliefs (Besnier et al., 2018). Additionally, it applies unscientific ways of understanding the body. In essence, the understanding of classical sports differs from the modern explanation of the value of sports games. Hidden in this perspective are a single-line evolution and a belief in humanity’s inevitable progress and constant improvement.

The development of the sport must be a product of social systems in which the scientific, rational, and bureaucratic worldview dominates. Adelman also demonstrated with his grandiose research that the rise of games took place before the Civil War. That is, such various sports as harness races, thoroughbred races, cricket, and baseball were modernized by 1870 (Darnell et al., 2018). Most historians appreciate heuristics and describe the value of the transformation model but consider it mechanistic. It does not pay attention to emotional factors. Although they point out that modern sport can exist in societies that are not completely renewed. Additionally, it is defined that the modernization of society is not a necessary condition for the development of sports games.

Comparison of Crossfit and Running

Running is one of the earliest sports which emerged at the beginning of our era. Historians claim that it was a survival method for humankind. They made such a conclusion after studying the skeleton of a prehistoric person who lived around 2.5 million years ago. It is evidenced by the structure of his feet and fragments of bones found during archaeological excavations. The emergence of various kinds of running was caused by practical necessity. For example, in Ancient Egypt, the relay race was carried out when several runners delivered specific messages. Running from ancient times was an integral part of military training because the speed of troops depended primarily on the speed of movement of infantry. The first mention of modern athletics and running as a discipline dates back to the 17th century and originates in the British Isles. As early as the 19th century, regular competitions began to be held in England (Darnell et al., 2018). Gradually representatives from different countries were invited to participate, but differences in the metric system limited this.

After the rebirth of the Olympic movement, running became an actual mass contest. It has long been considered one of the most popular sports. Amateurs and professionals alike engage in it. But more and more often, the tendency towards creating new sports is recognized; running has become an element of them, but it is losing its popularity as a full-fledged sport. For example, Crossfit can be considered one of the most innovative sports. It is a modern type of fitness exercise that includes an extreme system of general physical training (Meyer et al., 2017). Crossfit’s circuit coaching practice originated in the United States as a firefighter training system, but it quickly gained worldwide popularity outside of the profession. It can also be described as a training program consisting of constantly varying high-intensity functional exercises. The goal of the technique is formulated as the physical development of a person in areas such as endurance, strength, flexibility, speed, coordination, accuracy, and rapid adaptation to changing loads. It combines activities such as running, rowing (on special machines), jumping, climbing the rope, working with free weights (dumbbells, barbells, sandbags), exercises on the rings, and many others.

It was already mentioned that running is also an essential component of Crossfit; however, it has peculiarities. The workout and exercises will not go separately but in a complex. For example, it could be 400 meters of running, eight deadlifts, or pull-ups (Meyer et al., 2017). Such a training method benefits the muscles due to the non-standard load and additional body reserves. Regular Crossfit exercises must have a meaningful approach for the development of strength and endurance. They are incredibly varied and involve functional (basic) movements that are performed with high intensity. In other words, the load is constantly changed, unlike running, where the pace grows mainly. The popularity of this sport is increasingly expanding, replacing traditional exercises. There are several reasons for this, including historical, social, and physical factors.

The Evolution of Sports

The emergence of original sets of exercises for different purposes has become a fairly common phenomenon in modern society. Various sports appear and rapidly develop, competing with already well-known traditional ones. This process is very rapid and seems completely spontaneous. However, it can be assumed that there are certain regularities behind it. It is necessary to analyze and classify the concepts of its modernization to understand the processes taking place and how to manage their development. There is information in technoscientific literature about the essence of new sports, the history of their evolution, competition rules, technique, tactics, and other aspects. At the same time, publications that analyze this trend in modern sports as a systemic phenomenon are rare.

The first and central feature of a new sport should be its originality, unlike any other. It is not easy to find or invent such a sport today because much has already been done in its history. Consequently, a group of new exercises emerges as a modification of already known ones. In this case, the reason for the change is essential (Tjonndal, 2017). It is rather apparent: tight competition in a traditional sport. The alteration allows coaches and athletes to avoid challenging contests, blaze the trail to reach the top, achieve awards, and create new federations, unions, and other structures.

However, this process is also temporary: after a certain period, the game will gradually intensify if the modification causes increased interest. For example, there are styles in some martial arts in which the number of participants, even in major international competitions, is limited to only a few athletes (Tjonndal, 2017). Under such conditions, it is much easier to become, for example, a World Champion. That is why merging and combining already well-known sports is an entirely natural tendency. It is probably since maintaining the popularity of a traditional sport requires novelty but does not find it in the area of mastered space. Therefore, it seeks a more manageable way – a connection with another type. Moreover, the more opposite the connection is, the higher originality and innovation arise. An example of this is chess-boxing, which initially appeared as an idea in jest. This bias shows that today’s sport moves away from traditionalism, looking for integrative activity, entertainment, and action complexes.

Gender determinants also cause sports innovation. Women are more frequently taking part in such competitions that were previously considered purely masculine. Can we consider this fact unequivocally progress? The answer to this question lies in modern sociology, psychology, consideration of the gender aspect of sports development, and other areas of knowledge. There is a sharp struggle of contradictions regarding this issue (Tjonndal, 2017). On the one hand, the introduction of women into some sports seems unacceptable to preserve their social and biological function. On the other hand, these games continue to develop because they provide an opportunity for further emancipation, asserting equality, or even an advantage over men. The development of women’s sports finds excellent support among functionaries and bureaucrats because it carries apparent benefits, just as it does when sports are modified.

Another reason for the emergence of new sports is the increasing desire for extreme sensations among the population. In all reasonableness, this inclination will develop very actively because modern realities demand enormous exertion from people, and extremism is becoming an inherent part of lives. It becomes dangerously widespread among young people when they perform exercises, for instance, at great heights and without insurance, risking their lives but experiencing at the same time intense sensations (Tjonndal, 2017). The emergence of new sports is closely linked to the rapid development of innovative technologies. As a rule, these sports are aimed at the rapid movement of humans on a board or other devices. New sports are often developed quite independently from the Olympic movement, which includes generally recognized classical ones. They do not need an Olympic perspective, financial support, public management system, accessibility, attractiveness for sponsors, competition, staff availability, and methodological support. New sports arise for many reasons and in different ways, but most often, this is due to changes in society, desires, and challenges.


In today’s world, sports games are one of the most common types of human activity. The historical genesis shows that for centuries sport was distinctly significant but had different forms and purposes. Thus, the explanation of its importance was based on religious beliefs or the need to achieve victory for persons. Therefore, the emergence of new games occurs in the following ways: the realization of an original new idea and modification and differentiation of already known sports. It is, moreover, a merging of two or more traditional ones; the disappearance of ‘women’s and ‘men’s games; extreme human needs; and the realization of new technical developments. The evolution of new sports is determined primarily by the development of people’s needs, competition in traditional sports, and the natural course of the development of a particular sport.

Accordingly, that Crossfit is the result of the previously known running. The reason was that this new sport is a set of high-intensity exercises (both in individual and group formats) aimed at developing strength and endurance. Thus, this sport includes all the functions of running and many other practices for the human body. In general, humanity is trying to invent and improve new types of games to maintain interest in a healthy lifestyle.


Besnier, N., Brownell, S., & Carter, T. F. (2018). The anthropology of sport: Bodies, borders, biopolitics. Univ of California Press.

Darnell, S. C., Field, R., & Kidd, B. (2019). The history and politics of sport-for-development: Activists, ideologues and reformers. Springer.

Meyer, J., Morrison, J., & Zuniga, J. (2017). The benefits and risks of CrossFit: a systematic review. Workplace health & safety, 65(12), 612-618.

Tjonndal, A. (2017). Sport innovation: Developing a typology. European Journal for Sport and Society, 14(4), 291-310.