History of sports

This course aims to describe the history of sports and physical activities, from the origins to the present day, according to an anthropological and cultural approach. Every society, from the more ancient ones, selected specific movements transforming them into games and, in particular, into sports. Therefore, a same athletic movement, for example throwing a disc, can have a different value and meaning, if it is played by a Greek athlete in the 5th century B.C. in Olympia or by a Belarusian athlete in 2012 at the London Olympics: the first one is throwing the disk in a religious event, the second one in a secular event. The course represents a path of meanings given to the movement in different cultures over time, with particular attention to the Western world.

Attendance and Credentials

Attendance Certificate


Arts and Humanities

Training hours




Course Mode

Self Paced




6 weeks



Course Status

Self Pacement

Enrollments Start

Apr 4, 2017

Course Opens

Apr 21, 2017

Course Closes

Not Set
  • to know the meanings attributed to sports in different societies;
  • be familiar with the main descriptive elements of sports in the various societies introduced here;
  • to make comparisons between the sports of the past and those of the modern and contemporary age.
No particular prerequisites are required. It is clear, however, that a knowledge of the historical events of mankind from its origins to the present day helps to better place the specialist knowledge of the history of sports.
  • BARBIERI N. S., Dalla ginnastica antica allo sport contemporaneo. Lineamenti di storia dell’educazione fisica e sportiva, Padova, CLEUP, 2002. 
  • BARBIERI N. S. (a cura di) Dal cacciatore neolitico al cavaliere templare. Autori e testi nella storia dell’educazione fisica e dei giochi sportivi dagli albori dell’umanità al tardo medioevo, Padova, CLEUP, 2004. 
  • BARBIERI N. S., Mens sana in corpore sano. Ricerche sulla storia dell’educazione fisica e dello sport (2033-2013), Padova, CLEUP, 2013.
The course is structured in video lessons, alternating with self-assessment tests and exercises (consisting of individual research on the topics covered in the course). Individual research activities are expected to take their cue from the video lectures.

In order to complete the course, download the certificate of participation and obtain the open badge, the student must successfully pass the assessment tests and exercises relative to motor activity and sports from the beginning to the present day included in the course.



Educazione e Scienze Umane