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The Evolution of Popular Sports Through History



Many of the most popular sports around the world today have a rigid set of rules, and it’s rare to see significant changes in the way they’re played. This is especially true for sports with large professional leagues. But it wasn’t always like that. In fact, you don’t have to go too far back in history to see some of your favorite sports with a completely different face.
In some cases, changes have been the result of a refinement of the rules to make the sport more interesting. In others, they were tied to political games behind the scenes. And it’s not hard to guess that some of the changes throughout history have been controversial in the communities of their respective sports.


One of the most famous sports of the modern world is also one that’s gone through some of the most significant changes. There are several separate origins of the sport with similar rules, with the most popular one tracing back to 19th century England.
Asians were also pretty big on the sport, and their original version focused on manipulating the ball with pretty much the entire body, except the arms. People were encouraged to use their chests and shoulders as much as their legs. Another variant of football involved trying to prevent the ball from touching the ground.


The origins of baseball are a more heavily debated topic than those of football, though most agree that the sport is several centuries old. Interestingly, aiming thrown balls at runners was not only allowed but actively encouraged up until around the 1840s. The original versions of baseball also typically relied on softer, larger balls compared to what is traditionally used today.
Baseball has found a warm home in the US as a national pastime, and its popularity has not faded through history. Baseball during WW2 went through some significant transformations, especially with regards to organizing players in more sensible leagues and paving the way for a proper professional approach.


Another sport that’s gone through some major changes during its lifetime, basketball remains one of the favorite forms of entertainment of many around the world. Like football, it’s easy to pick up and participate in, making it a popular choice among young people without access to specialized equipment.

The game looked quite different in the past though. Initially, rules were much stricter with regards to tackling and shoving, leading to a more patient, controlled rhythm. Players were originally not allowed to re-enter a game after being subbed out, either. The format of the typical basketball match has changed significantly over the years, with the number of players being continuously adjusted.
While these sports – and most other professional ones – might seem pretty static nowadays, it’s important to remember that their current state is the result of long years of evolution. In some cases, even centuries. And even though some of their modern rules might seem annoying to deal with, they can usually be traced back to a specific event in the history of the sport that paints them in a much more sensible light.