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There exist competitive board games (e.g. Chess, Scrabble, Battleship) and cooperative board games (e.g. Pandemic, Hanabi). It appears to me as all popular sports are competitive in nature (competition among individuals or among teams).

  • Are there sports that are uniquely cooperative?
  • Are there very popular cooperative sports today?
  • Were cooperative sports more popular at some point in our history?
  • Cooperation in professional cycling is not uncommon, where members of different teams work together in breakaways or trade stage wins for other goals, e.g. GC standings. – jlb Sep 20 '17 at 3:14
  • Sure just like cooperation within a soccer team. But I am wondering if there are uniquely cooperative sports just like pandemix is a uniquely cooperative game. The question is inspired from this video (in french) where it is claimed (my translation) several civilizations used to perform sports without competition. – Remi.b Sep 20 '17 at 4:58
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    Solo sports often foster cooperation since they do not have active competition. Hindering other participants is either unsportsmanlike or prohibited: i.e. marathons are not inherently competitive among the participants. Even though there is a first place winner, no one "loses". I cannot think of a modern popular sport that is purely cooperative like Pandemic where the participants are competing against a situation. interestingly, questions on non-traditional sporting activities like solo sports are often voted as off-topic here. They are not viewed as sports. – Val Sep 21 '17 at 14:22
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Certainly depends on your definition of sports, but...

Are there sports that are uniquely cooperative? YES

I can think of several examples where a team accomplished a goal of sport that was not exclusively against an opponent.

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first confirmed climbers of Mt. Everest in 1953enter image description here

Any time a team climbs a mountain, circumnavigates the globe or rows across a body of water - this is a cooperative sport. If you remove the constraint of first or fastest, it becomes non-competitive. (Conversely you could make a game like pandemic competitive by having teams see who can complete it fastest)

For a silly example:

Highest trampoline bounce (team) - You could argue they are competing against the previous record holders, but I'd argue they are competing against gravity.

Are there very popular cooperative sports today? YES

The ones mentioned earlier, but any action sport where teams work together to accomplish a goal - Think endurance sports, group activities that conquer nature, or other team building exercises like Ropes Courses.

Were cooperative sports more popular at some point in our history? HARD TO SAY DEFINITIVELY

Because this is not an established category of sport, it's hard to say that one time period showed more popularity - we can probably say that these types of activities where there is no competition require both time and money - as such these activities were probably limited to the ultra-rich in the past or those that funded such feats. Today people have considerably more leisure time. According to The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, "Americans appear to be working less. Numerous economic studies suggest that the number of hours that the average American works in a year has fallen by about 550 hours from 1900 to 2005." This suggests that modern people have more time to partake in such activities.

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    "Edmund Hillary being the prototypical example" of the ultra-rich?! Surely you're joking. – Nij Sep 21 '17 at 3:41
  • +1 for comment from @Nij. The financing for the 1953 expedition was organized by a british committee with various backers, rather than from the climbers themselves: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Himalayan_Committee – Fillet Sep 21 '17 at 6:35
  • Hillary himself was born to an average rural family, worked like hell to get where he ended up, and was never possessed of notable personal wealth. – Nij Sep 21 '17 at 7:47
  • I've edited this to be more clear and discussed people who fund such projects. Either these things were done in the past by wealthy people or funded by wealthy people. – Bryan Turriff Sep 21 '17 at 22:21

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