Sports include various types of physical competitions, in which people may participate as individuals or members of a team. Since the days of Connor and Brigid, it has been known that many worlds, such as Earth, have developed their own sports, which can vary widely from world to world (especially when the physiology of different species differs from world to world), though many sports can be quite similar on different worlds, especially the earliest ones developed in a given race's history. It is also known that on many worlds, sports may attain a higher level of cultural significance than they have, thus far, on The Land. They may, in some cases, have an influence on politics or matters of law, or they may be played professionally, even becoming a very profitable industry. The possibility exists that sports might someday become a profession on the Land, but for the time being, sports are still most commonly played for the fun of it. Which is not to say that some athletes may not become famous and highly regarded for their skills at whatever sport they may play, particularly since the inception of the quadrennial World Fair in LY 900. (Though some sports, such as gymnastics, archery, and fencing, have been included in circus sideshows for centuries.)
The following is a partial list of sports which are played on The Land:
Bows and arrows have been used for hunting since the earliest days of the Land. It wasn't until the early 400s, when spirits began sharing Terran stories of Robin Hood that anyone began think of using them for sports. The rules are simple: Targets are set up, and contestants much shoot arrows at them from an equal distance. Whoever gets closest to the center of their target is the winner.
It's unknown when the earliest boats, which were originally used for fishing, began to be used for races on rivers, though it was surely prior to LY 140, when larger boats began being used to aid in the construction of First River Bridge. The rules are simple: Contestants start from a given point, and begin rowing at the same time, until they reach a specified point. Whoever reaches that point first is the winner.
Various types of fairs have been held on the Land since sometime in the mid-200s. These events typically involve various games and sports, rides (such as the carousel, invented by Maura in 191), music, the selling of foods and crafts, etc. In 564, a new kind of event called a circus was introduced, and the first circus troupe traveled between villages, quickly becoming quite popular. In fact, it soon became more popular than fairs, and when in 565 an annual fair held in Ship failed to turn a profit for the village's public fund for the first time since its founding, one of the fair's planners, a spirit-talker named Christine, decided that the next year they should have a new attraction, to better compete with the circus (though in fact the circus did not return to Ship for a few years). Christine and her fellow planners devised a new team sport called Fairball (so named because it was to be played at fairs), which was based to a certain extent on a Terran sport called Baseball. The rules of Fairball, however, are somewhat simpler than those of Baseball (though still more complex than those of most Landian sports). It was first played during Ship's 566 fair, and in later years slowly spread to other villages. Games of Fairball, however, were not played between teams from different villages until the first World Fair, in 900.
Sometime in the 200s, the art of bladesmithery became more specialized. Sometime around 240, the first rapiers were created, and within a decade or so they began to be used for sport. In fencing, there are safety tips on the ends of rapiers to make them less likely to do any real harm. Around the same time, bokken (wooden swords) were first created, for use in learning swordsmanship. Soon after the introduction of fencing as a sport, bokken began being used by some people in lieu of rapiers. The rules vary somewhat depending on whether contestants are using rapiers or bokken, though ultimately the play is roughly the same. Contestants have two goals: to score as many hits against an opponent as they can, while also attempting to prevent their opponent from scoring hits against them. Unlike many sports which are played by individuals, instead of there being any number of contestants competing at one time, in fencing only two people compete at a time. However, in tournaments there may be any number of contestants, each competing against a single opponent, with the winners moving on to successively smaller brackets, until finally the top two contestants face off against each other.
First conceived of in 425, by an elc from Jump Village. However, the sport was rarely performed until the 564, when Lyta of Olek was inspired to turn her amateur hobby into one of several acts in the first circus (though in that context, the sport would come to be more commonly called "acrobatics"). The sport involves jumping, tumbling, balancing, swinging, and various other physical contortions that require strength, flexibility, speed, and coordination. It also involves various specialized apparatus.
First played in Tonad, in 580. Much like Fairball, Foulball was conceived of by a spirit-talker, named Thane. He conceived it as a sort of joke, with several of Fairball's rules reversed or in some way altered, theoretically to comic effect. It's said that he first considered calling it "Unfairball," but a spirit friend of his suggested "Foulball" instead, as a pun based on terminology from the Terran sport Baseball (while the rules of Fairball are similar in some ways to those of Baseball, there are differences, and the Landian sport does not involve balls being called "fair" or "foul"). In spite of its name, and the joking nature of its creation, many consider Foulball to be a fun sport in its own right, and over the years it has come to enjoy a level of popularity nearly equal to that of Fairball. In 597, Tooblan wrote a play entitled Play Ball!, a comedy in which a Foulball team engages in a series of games against a succession of Fairball teams, with the Foulball team playing by the rules of their own sport and the Fairball teams playing by their sport's rules.
Also called "foot racing," running is something which has, of course, been done for any number of reasons (sports being just one example), since the beginning of the world. It is in fact one of the simplest, and therefore most common sports in the Universe. It's unknown when running was first done competitively on the Land, though presumably it started as a game played by children, sometime in the first century. The rules are simple: contestants start from a given point, and begin running at the same time, until they reach a specified point. Whoever reaches that point first is the winner. There have been some minor variations, such as the actual shape of the course (the standard is a straight line, but there are other shapes, most commonly ovoid), as well as placing obstacles along the path. There are also "relay races," in which runners work as part of a team, with each member tagging the next after completing a specified number of laps, so that the next runner then takes a turn.
Contestants ride striders from a given starting point to a given finish point. The first one to the finish point wins.
First done in 547, in Sorret, the sport involves standing on special "surfboards" to ride large ocean waves. It's a sport which originated on Earth, and which was described to a spirit-talker named Maiko, who was not a Sorreter, but who was jealous of the creation a few years earlier of flying vehicles. Maiko wanted to learn something just as "cool" as flying, but which could be done by anyone, which is what led a spirit friend to describe the sport to him. Surfing was originally done purely recreationally, but by 550 if not sooner, surfers were beginning to hold informal competitions against one another. While the most basic rule for such competitions is that the winner is the one who stays on his or her board the longest without "wiping out," it is not uncommon for good surfers to ride their boards all the way to shore. This necessitates more arbitrary rules, in which people watching from the beach judge the style of each surfer's ride.
While people have swum since the Land was first created, it wasn't done as a sport until 364. The first swimming competitions were held in First Sound, between First Land and First Isle. The rules are simple: Contestants start from a given point, and begin swimming at the same time, until they reach a specified point. Whoever reaches that point is the winner. There have been some variations, mainly in terms of the number of laps swum back and forth, if the race is not done in a single lap. Also, there are some "relay races" in which swimmers work as part of a team, with each member tagging the next after completing their laps, so that the next swimmer then takes a turn.
A sport first introduced at the 912 World Fair, in which competitors race wagons powered by internal enchantment engines. The wagons are driving on special race tracks, usually ovoid in shape (much like those used in running races). A single race may consist of a large number of laps around the track.