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a competitive game in which one player or team attempts to defeat an opponent by employing various tactics and techniques, usually by maneuvering a ball or other object past the opponent into the scoring area.
Official rules regulate the procedure and organization of athletic games. Most athletic games involve natural body movements and various forms of physical exercise, for example, running, jumping, throwing, and hitting. The player or team attempts to score points against the opponent by executing certain plays and thus win the game. In many athletic games the competitors engage in direct physical contact. The great popularity of athletic games is due to their accessibility and relatively simple rules and organization, as well as the strong emotional impact they have on participants and spectators.
Some athletic games are played by teams, for example, volleyball, team handball, cricket, and all types of hockey. Others are played by individuals, for example, bowling and curling, or by both individuals and teams, for example, badminton, golf, table tennis, and tennis.
Athletic games are played by people of various ages and both sexes. Some games, usually tests of strength requiring great physical exertion, are played only by men; these include water polo, rugby, and ice hockey. The rules for athletic games are determined by the appropriate international federations. National games, such as American football, the Russian gorodki, and lacrosse, are regulated by national federations, which promote the development of the games and organize national and international competitions. World, national, and continental championships are held in athletic games. Athletic games are played in the Olympic Games, as well as in regional and other competitions, for example, the Pan-American Games, the World Student Games, and the Spartakiad of the Peoples of the USSR.
Most athletic games that have received worldwide recognition are played in the USSR. The USSR federations for various athletic games are members of corresponding international federations. In 1974 all-Union championships of the USSR were held in 16 athletic games, and approximately 22.5 million people, including 6.7 million with sports ratings and more than 6,000 masters of sport, played various athletic games. Soviet athletes competed in 14 world and European championships in athletic games and took first place in eight of them.
In some countries, chess and checkers, billiards, bridge, and other games are included in the same category as athletic games.
Athletic games should be distinguished from many sports-type games, for example lapta (a Russian folk team game), hoops, croquet, tag, and tipcat, which do not have strictly defined rules or a system of organization and do not require special training.
V. A. IVONIN