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Sports are rooted in nothing more than a fun distraction from perilous times, but now those playful pastimes have evolved into an industry valued at more than $100 billion. Simple games of man vs. man, team vs. team, or man vs. little round ball have grown into massive conglomerates with inches-thick rule books and governing boards, and Coca-Cola proudly sponsoring this week’s action.
Here, we’ve selected a collection of sports that represent many of the central pillars of the sports industry today. By plotting them all along the same linear graphic, we more clearly see the collective evolution of competitive athletics from lighthearted hobbies into serious business.