What is the difference between sports and sporting when both are used to modify noun. We say

Sports shoes, sports car

But cannot use sporting here

Sporting country

We cannot say sports country

  • Neither sports country nor sporting country sound particularly idiomatic to me, but according to Google Books they both occur. I must admit a sporting country makes me think of a country having the attribute sporting = fair and generous (in behaviour or treatment of others). Whatever - the question is based on the false premise that a sports country isn't a valid construction. I'd also just add that a pair of sporting shoes sounds really weird to me, so that looks like another false premise. May 30, 2019 at 14:55
  • I also say that sporting shoes is wrong
    – user93387
    May 30, 2019 at 15:06
  • have you looked in a dictionary?
    – WendyG
    May 30, 2019 at 15:14

1 Answer 1


"Sporting" generally means something different from "sports". I'm afraid this is another one of those cases where the expected usage of an English word can be different from its actual usage. "Sporting" is an adjective:

sporting (adj):
1. connected with or interested in sports. "a major sporting event"
2. fair and generous in one's behavior or treatment of others, especially in a game or contest. "it was not very sporting of Smith to hit Gonzales with that pitch"

while "sports" is a noun:

sports (n): 1.1 An occasion on which people compete in various athletic activities. "I won the 200 metres in the school sports"

Unfortunately the usage is mostly based on idiom. "Sports" can be used in compound nouns to mean "related to sports":

7 Ways to Level-Up Your Sports Event Management

However this title could have instead used "sporting":

See Where the Olympics Rank on Our List of Top 10 Sporting Events

To complicate this, "sport" (singular) is also used in compound nouns:

Alonzo and Jeff went to the mall to buy sport/sports shoes for school.

Which to use ("sport", "sports", and "sporting") seems to vary between different nouns, different expressions, and even different dialects. For example, "sports country" makes sense as the name of a television or radio show:

Hey y'all, you're watching Sports Country on ESPN!

but not in conversation (although it does seem to be used). Instead "sporting nation" seems to be used (although this may be an Indian expression):

Realizing The Dream Of A Sporting Nation

I apologize that I'm answering your question by providing examples rather than rules, but again, the usage here seems to be based on idiom rather than grammar. It seems you might just have to repeat what you hear native speakers say.

Note: In the definition above you'll see that "sporting" has a different meaning, related to the idea of fair play in sports. If you choose to use "sporting" you have to be careful not to confuse the meanings. For example, a "sporting event" is one in which sports occur, but a "sporting gentleman" is one who believes in giving his opponent a fair chance to win -- or, in some cases, a man who likes to gamble.

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