Purpose. The aim of this paper is to define the meaning of sports world records, which to attain require long years of strenuous training, within the sphere of humanistic and cultural values. The differences between newly placed records and previous scores are usually centimetres or hundredths of a second, which hardly contribute to the spectacularity of a competition. Is therefore setting a record more meaningful as a cultural, not a sports, goal? Methods. A semiotic-pragmatic method was used in this research. The method was founded on C.S. Peirce's semeiotics, which is a sign theory based on the triadic, relational concept of signs. Every sporting event, every individual achievement of an athlete is a sign, which acquires meaning due to its interpretation and being part of the so-called process of semiosis. Results. The popularity and cultural meaning of particular sports does not result from the immanent features of a sporting competition, such as its aesthetic merits or the dynamics of the game. The differences in times of the best runners in a prestigious 100 metre race are unperceivable to the human eye. The attraction stems from cultural factors, which are meaningful in the sphere of values of a given culture. One of such values in which sport relates to it is freedom. Conclusions. Striving for records, even at the cost of one's health, has (for the sports described in the article as contesting) a motivation in the cultural (philosophical) meaning of overcoming the limits of the human body's physical abilities. Every record set means that those limits have not yet been reached and therefore are still unknown. This spiritual freedom is accompanied by the equally vital, as confirmed by records, sense of physical unlimitedness.