Version 1 – November 2016 



The ORIGIN of a GAME or SPORT is the point in time at which a game/sport becomes identifiable as a single entity. From that point onwards it must have an evolutionary path, drawn either theoretically or through the provision of evidence, to the modern day version of the sport to be considered the origin.

GAME – A game is a contest of luck and/or mental or physical skill between two or more parties under a common set of rules with the aim of determining a desired outcome or winner.

SPORT – A sport is a contest between two or more parties of physical skill, strength, speed, endurance, ability or physical artistic impression undertaken within a common set of rules set by a governing body with the aim of determining a desired outcome or winner.

Games and sports originate from one of two methods:

1. ORIGIN BY BIRTH – Where a game/sport begins through a series of circumstances containing the six ingredients of location, personnel, equipment (optional), actions, aims and rules, which develop into a game/sport. 

2. ORIGIN BY CREATION – There are three known types of origin by creation:

CREATION BY SEPARATION – Where a game/sport evolves through separation from another game/sport that continues in its own right as a parent game/sport (e.g. Rugby Union and Rugby League).

CREATION BY DESIGN – A game/sport that is designed by a person or group of people prior to the first contest taking place (it may be based on contributory games/sports, e.g. Triathlon, or be an entirely new game/sport). 

CREATION BY MODEL – Where a game/sport begins by modelling itself on another sport but then follows its own line of evolution (e.g. Football at Rugby School and Football at Eton School).

The terminology for related sports should be as follows:

Parent game/sport – the game/sport from which another game/sport has derived

Descendant game/sport – a game/sport that has evolved from another game/sport

Ancestor game/sport – a game/sport in the direct lineage of the game/sport in question.

Contributory game/sport – a game/sport that is not considered to be the parent sport but has either directly or indirectly influenced another game/sport.




LOCATION – This is where the game or sport will take place; a location can include fixed objects such as buildings, trees and other unavoidable factors such as water. Among others a location could be a field (cricket, soccer, etc.), court (tennis, basketball, etc.), water (swimming, diving, yachting, etc.), mountain (skiing, bobsleigh, orienteering, etc.) or road (running, cycling, etc.). Other permanent fixtures of a game/sport that must be present at the location and that aren’t supposed to move, or are meant to be avoided during play, are also included in this ingredient – e.g. a tennis net, rugby posts, soccer goals or slalom poles. 

PERSONNEL – The people and/or animals that are at the location and that are going to play and/or judge the game/sport. This includes a player’s dress and equipment worn or used that is necessary to take part in a game/sport. Things like boxing gloves, swimming goggles, running shoes, skis, ski poles or tennis, badminton and squash racquets can all be considered under ‘personnel’. 

EQUIPMENT – The moveable objects; things that are controlled by the players and are used during the game/sport. These may already be at the location or can be brought by the personnel. Equipment, however, is not a necessity and a game/sport can take place without this component. Examples of equipment are balls, arrows, shuttlecocks, darts, pucks, javelins, discus, etc., i.e. items that require an action to be exerted upon them in order to make them a part of the game/sport. 

ACTIONS – There needs to be movement or interaction between the above three or the first two. This can include all types of movement, such as running, kicking, hitting, paddling, throwing, dancing, driving, shooting, jumping, dribbling with a ball, etc.

AIMS – The above actions need to be channelled into aims. There are two types of aims: ‘action aims’, where there are aims to the actions – e.g. passing a ball to a player in a better position, hitting a shuttlecock to put your opponent in a difficult position, bowling a ball to try and get your opponent out, scoring a goal, forcing an error, hitting a winner, running the fastest, avoiding poles, etc. There must also be ‘objective aims’ – e.g. to score more goals than the other team, to score more points, to reach a points target first, to give the best artistic impression, to jump further than anyone else, to reach the finish line first, etc. 

RULES – A set of rules needs to be created in order to determine how the actions and aims define the contest – e.g. you can’t pass forward, if you hit a pole you lose points, the first to the finish line is the winner, you mustn’t punch an opponent, the game ends after 60 minutes, etc.



A game/sport will evolve through changes in rules or laws, usually to:

1. Solve any problems that occur.

2. Take opportunities to enhance a game/sport.

When outlining the status of a game or sport in relation to its evolution, the following terminology should apply:

Steps 1-5 – PLAY – A combination of location, personnel, equipment, actions and aims without a set of rules to define a contest can be regarded as play.

Step 6 – GAME – Play becomes a game when a rule or a set of verbal rules is added to the five ingredients (equipment optional) to define the contest. 

Step 7 – ORGANISED GAME – A game can be considered to be organised if a set of written rules exist under which the game is played. 

Step 8 – SPORT – A game becomes a sport when a body consisting of a variety of unconnected parties that are linked only by the game played are joined together to form a governing body for the game, with a view to organising that game.

Step 9 – NATIONAL SPORT – A sport becomes national when it has a governing body that covers all regions of a particular country.

Step 10 – INTERNATIONAL SPORT – When a sport has a governing body consisting of a variety of national governing bodies that are joined together to form a governing body for the game it becomes an international sport.



A game or sport has to have a set of rules or laws to define the contest. These rules can be split into the following categories:

KNOWLEDGE – Identifying the location, personnel and equipment to be used in the game. Explaining the terminology used in the set of rules/laws and the way in which a game is to be played.

ACTION – Directing an action that is to take place during the game. 

AIM – Identifying the aim or object of a game – e.g. to score goals, first across the line, most points, best artistic impression, etc.

RESTRICTION – Creating boundaries for the actions, general play or other possible problems that may occur in a game.

Rules or laws can also be a combination of any of the above.



ACCEPTABLE THEORIST – Someone who is in a position to have a theory that can be accepted or believed through means of control, for example a sport’s governing body (e.g. World Rugby), an educational establishment or through information generation, for example through books, media outlets, TV, newspapers, websites, etc. 

EARLIEST AGREED ORIGIN – The earliest point in time where it is accepted by all acceptable theorists that a game or sport exists. 

EARLIEST POSSIBLE ORIGIN – The earliest point in time at which an acceptable theorist believes that a game originated. 

NOTES ON THE ORIGIN – If factual evidence for the origin of a sport does not exist and there are several theoretical versions, then the probability of each possible origin theory should be decided upon by a group of ‘origin specialists’ who are neutral and who have no connection to an organisation within that sport. The origin specialists may if necessary seek the advice of specialists within the sport in order to examine the possibilities offered.
The above set of rules has only been checked against game-related sports. Other types of sports, such as target sports, fighting sports, physical artistic impression sports and racing sports, may have different sets of rules or criteria that apply to their origin and evolution. As with the rules and laws of games and sports, these rules may and will most likely change as more information becomes available. They are subject to the evolutionary process and are open for debate and discussion. 

The above rules and any future versions will be published to this website. 

Details of how we developed these rules can be found in the below publication. 


Understanding the ORIGIN & EVOLUTION of Sport - Vol 1

by Dai Richards

A new limited edition 174 page large format (A4 size) hardback book. 

Signed by the author.






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