At first glance, sports and arts may not have much in common. But look just a bit deeper, beyond the entertainment value of sports and the thrill of victory, and you’ll see there is an inherent artistry in sports that often goes unnoticed.
For one, sports and arts are the world’s universal languages. Both allow us to express ourselves in more ways than one (physically, emotionally, and often even intellectually and spiritually), and both enable us to communicate with each other regardless of our geography, language, and culture.
And then there’s the human body. A source of enduring fascination to artists across time and space, and an instrument to be used for movement, play, or fight in sports, the body is at the centre of both art and sports. After all, it is through the body-mind connection that we create and consume art and play and experience sports.
But the connection between sports and arts goes much deeper than this. And in this blog post, we’ll dive deep into the artistic expression found within the world of sports.
The Art of Sport
It is in human nature to try to push boundaries and test one’s limits. We do this in various ways, but no one embodies this effort, this motto of “faster, higher, stronger” more than athletes. Athletes explore and push the limits of human potential through sport, helping us reach new heights and gain new understandings of human physicality and psychology. And in many ways, art does the same.
Like athletes, artists explore and often push the limits of human potential or what it means to be human. Have you ever listened to a piece of music or a song that has made you cry? Seen a painting that has made you feel awe, a sense of sublime? That’s what good art does to our brains – it makes us transcend our understanding of the world and see and feel more of it.
Sports are no different. Watching the graceful movements of a figure skater, the way they use their seemingly superhuman fluidity and poise to convey a story or emotion can leave one stunned and in awe.
But it’s not just individual athletes who demonstrate how artistic sports can be. Team sports, like basketball, baseball, or football, can often show the beauty of collaboration and synchronization. The coordinated movements come together to create something akin to a choreographed dance.
Sport as an Inspiration
Sports have inspired countless works of art in various mediums. From paintings capturing iconic moments to films that delve into the human stories behind the athletes, artists have always found inspiration in the world of sports.
The sheer number of paintings, sculptures, and photographs depicting sports and athletes shows how many artists have found inspiration in sports throughout history.
To the ancient Greeks, the perfect body was an athletic body. This is why we have so many ancient sculptures depicting athletes and lean, muscular male figures. One of the earliest and most famous sculptures of this kind is Discobolus, attributed to the Greek sculptor Myron (480–440 BC). Then there are the numerous Greek vases depicting games, competitions, and all kinds of physical endeavours.
In more recent history, artists have painted football players (Henri Rousseau’s The Football Players from 1908), horse races (Edouard Manet’s The Races at Longchamps from 1876), cyclists (Umberto Boccioni’s Dynamism of a Cyclist from 1913), and more. Even modern online art galleries, such as Singulart, have sports collections showcasing a diverse range of sport-inspired artworks.
In the end, both sports and arts are about the expression of humanity. So next time you watch a game or attend a sporting event, take a moment to appreciate the artistic elements at play. The players’ movements and strategic play, the ebb and flow of a game, the tension and jubilation experienced by both players and fans – these are all artistic expressions of sports.