The purpose of this study is to investigate the functions of sport in world top universities and explore the reasons behind
International Alliance of Research Universities, namely IARU , including 10 universities that rank top 60 in the world in US NEWS world university ranking in 2015, is selected as a case study. The
relative official websites about sports of each university were screened, and a questionnaire about their daily sports activities were collected to the expertise who changing in sports. Descriptive
study methods were run and then regression analysis were applied to explore the dimensions of sport functions in IARU members.
We found :1, Mainly there are 3 major factors contribute to the sports in University: Service function as campus sports with different level of students and faculty sports club and athletic teams,
Education function as compulsory or elective PE course and degree education, and Research function in sports science or physical education. 2, sports function diverse a lot while share some commons in
IARU members. Campus sports is the most common function for all. Sportsmanship and fair play, and the lessons learned from competition sports is the common value for each university. No university
could develop all those three functions well, 40% of the members have at least two functions, while only 20% of the members obtain all the functions. 3; The higher ranking university, the less likely
to develop sports academic education. Except ETH, Tokyo University, Peking University, Copenhagen University, which rank last 3 places in the IARU members. Also, Europe Universities develop sports
science academic education relative better than the university from the other continents, with different degree level from bachelor to doctoral. Moreover, those Universities that develop sports
science academic education are all from countries who speak English as a second language. University Tradition and history seems the most important factor influencing the sports function. 4. Physical
education, compulsory or elective with credits, only shown in Peking University and University of California at Berkeley for non-sport major students.
In conclusion, service is the most important and common function in the world top universities, then the academic degree education, followed by physical education the third. Developing sports science
research, instead of traditional physical education, seems the best alternative way to develop sports in modern research world top universities.