I also would vouch for martial arts as one of the most utilitarian forms of recreational activity one could do. Not only does one learn to defend themselves, but get into it enough and you can develop incredible balance, speed, endurance, flexibility, and strength all at once.
But yea, all it is is utilitarian in my opinion. I myself have a blackbelt in Karate, but I always hated going to class. I never really enjoyed it.
Personally I think the ideal sport (for men at any rate), is the one that all the boys in the village get together and make up themselves, or the ones that are a community tradition in which all the males compete in at festivals hosted annually (or even weekly). Of course, this isn't exactly what you would find in a typical American town, but more in a village in 13th century France. These days we have lost touch with local and more intimate family traditions in favour of large, almost collectivist national and global sports. I don't know, maybe it's just me, but it seems just as colorless as having two candidates running for president. Making up your own games is inventive, on-going, community and family oriented, and creates greater social bonds, "Yea, we made that game up ourselves!" Seeing as children are by their nature highly imaginative and inventive, it seems far more fitting to allow them to make up their own games. Though, I suppose when they get older, they'll be wanting to play whatever the adults are playing, so hopefully the adults are doing more than sitting around watching television :tv-disturbed: