Etymology
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athletics (n.)

"art or practice of athletic games or exercises," c. 1730, from athletic; also see -ics. Probably formed on model of gymnastics.

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Definitions of athletics

athletics (n.)
an active diversion requiring physical exertion and competition;
Synonyms: sport
athletics (n.)
a contest between athletes;
Synonyms: athletic contest / athletic competition
athletics (n.)
participation in sports events as an extracurricular activity;
From wordnet.princeton.edu