In 776 BC the Ancient Greeks hosted the first recorded Olympic Games in Olympia. Unlike modern day Olympics, the event featured one competition in the nude — a foot race. But despite its simplicity, this first game reveals the vital contribution sports and recreation made to the cultural development and evolution of society.
Some of the most popular sports in the world today were either born out of necessity or became a creative way for people to enhance their customs. Muay Thai, the national sport of Thailand, started as a fighting style the military used to defend against invaders. During the early 1500s when the city of Florence was under siege, the people used their native sport Calcio Storico as an act of protest against the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. And in Japan, followers of the Shinto religion believed the sport of Sumo to be a religious rite.
Like food, fashion, and art, sports can reveal pieces of a country's identity providing unique insights into its people and their traditions. And most importantly, in addition to fun, a shared interest in sports can facilitate a genuine connection between people even if they’re from opposite sides of the world.
From the ancient to the modern, the following list provides a roundup of popular sports and sporting events from around the globe.