To focus a camera on something further in the distance - say, you’re trying to take a picture of an athlete down on the track and you’re up by the announcer’s booth - there are two things you can do. The first is changing the lens, and the second is changing the focal length. Changing the lens is probably easiest to do on a smartphone camera, since these lenses will be small enough to fit in a bag, a purse, or a cooler of some kind.
That is, if you’re the average sports fan. If you’re a professional sports photographer, you might have the option to use a bigger camera and, usually, a more expensive camera. Changing the focal length changes how far the camera can “see” with whatever lens it has on.