Sports are governed by an association of rules or traditions, which work to ensure fair play, and enable consistent adjudication of the outcome. In popular sports, statistics of performance are frequently recorded, and this data can be widely reported or announced in sports news. However, despite their widespread importance and influence, many people feel that the rules governing most ordinary sports are too complicated and intricate to be easily explained by simple list-making or polls. The following article is a brief attempt to address some of the main arguments concerning sports rules, as well as the potential solutions to problems of complexity.
One major claim made against sports rule-making is that the rules governing regular games of Association Football seem to have evolved over time in order to accommodate the increasing sophistication and needs of modern society. In this view, it is argued that the need to create a standard set of rules, when initially the game was slow and unpolished, is not unjustified. On the other hand, the sport is more than just a means of recreation; it is an activity dedicated to social interaction and aesthetic appreciation. Thus, many feel that sports should not be controlled by the “gut feelings” of the public, but should instead be determined by considerations of physical dexterity, aptitude for a particular sport, commitment to a team or individual, and so on. These are, in a sense, the definitions of sport that most people are familiar with: football is a game of skill, athleticism and dedication, while tennis is about tactics, technique and skill. Sport, it is argued, should be determined by the competitive goals of the players and by the level of physical exertion they can display.
Another argument against sports rule-making comes from those who believe that there are inherent conflicts and unfair biases in the way that sport is regulated in different countries. This is because of the different ways that the rules are applied and enforced, as well as the varying levels of skill and expertise that sport requires in order to play. For example, some argue that in the United States the rules for baseball and basketball are so unbalanced that the two sports have little chance of reaching their full potential, while in Europe and Asia, the same is said of cricket. In these cases, the ability of people to understand the sport and its relation to other values and activities, as well as to ensure fair competition has been hindered.