I was recently reading this article on the use of "math" vs. "maths" as a collective noun (Americans use the former, Brits the latter). However, the trend seen in "math/maths" is reversed in "sport/sports", with Brits using the version without an "s" as a collective noun, and Americans using the one with the "s". What is the origin of this?
This is really old, but if you go to Cambridge Dictionary 'sports' is the adjective (only before noun) and 'sport' is the noun. So, 'sports day' but 'do you like sport?'. That's for BrE, I've got no idea about AmE.
adjective [before noun] UK
relating to sport:
It's the school sports day on Monday.
noun A1 [U] UK
all types of physical activity that people do to keep healthy or for enjoyment:
She used to do/play a lot of sport when she was younger.
In British schools, the teachers and children sometimes organise/participate in a 'sports day'. A long-running, British TV panel-game: 'A Question of Sport'. The usage varies - a person may be regarded either as 'good at sports', or 'good at sport'.
"sport" or "sports" is a tangled problem. "sport" has several meanings. As referring to physical activity there is some difference in usage between BrE and AmE. Actually only usage notes of dictionaries can give some help.
But I can't imagine that things are as simple as OALD says (sport BrE, sports AmE). Usage in BrE and in AmE probably vary according to region and individual usage and probably usage is changing.
sport no. 2 can be used for a person as in "He's a good sport".
sport no. 3 can mean fun or joke.
There is also the problem of compound words of the type sportsman, sports car and sport shirt.