Ah, the eternal eternal debate. What is a “sport”, anyway? What differentiates a real sport from any other activity? I’ve come up with a near foolproof formula for how to determine what constitutes a sport.
First of all, we must distinguish the difference between a sport and a game. This is the most important and completely objective step. Why? Because I said so.
A Game is an activity that can be practiced either by an individual or by a team. It has a separate set of rules, as well as a way to determine winners and losers, either through a points system or an alternate elimination method.
A sport is an activity that has a physical component. The sports usually also have some level of professional circuitry, although levels of skill and visibility vary widely.
Many, if not most, sports are games. What comes to mind when you think of sports are most likely also games: football, baseball, basketball, etc. There are teams, clear rules, point systems and a winner and a loser every time. Easy, right? However, some games are clearly not sports. No one is trying to pretend that Monopoly should be in the Olympics. The Venn diagram of games and sports is not migraine yet. However, here is where it gets tricky. What about activities that require physical abilities but are not competitive like hiking or pilates? Where are these activities located?
That’s an excellent question. I don’t claim to have all the answers; I only claim to have most of them. Here is my final decision on what is and is not a sport.
People tried very hard to be sneaky by “sports” right there in the name. However, that doesn’t change my opinion. I respect the talent and hard work it takes to be good at video games. I do. However, typing or using a controller is not at all on the same physical level as committing to a “real” sport. Screw it; I won’t even put it in quotes. Gambling is not a real sport.
I’m not going to incriminate myself by revealing my own personal ability to ride a bike, but I’ll leave it at that: if you can backflip on a bike without hanging up, you have my automatic respect.
It should go without saying, and I’m sick of the slander of cheerleaders. Try telling me that cheerleading, especially high-level acrobatics, is not a sport. I dare you.
Parkour is extremely impressive physically, but as a whole – largely individual and very urban with limited opportunity for mainstream exposure – I don’t think there’s enough competition to really make it a sport.
Ruling: Hardly a sport
Listen to me. Yes, darts are traditionally associated with bars and finished basements. However, I think the accuracy aspect of darts is often overlooked, and the hand-eye coordination and stability required puts it almost on par with archery for me. It’s easy to play darts, but it’s hard to get good at it. If you are, more power to you.
I’ll keep it simple; watch this clip of Pete Weber winning his fifth US Open and tell me he’s not a contender at the top of his game.
You’d think my Midwestern dad would be all over this, but he’s definitely in the non-athletic camp. I get where he’s coming from, saying something played in the parking lot of a football stadium doesn’t have the merit of the event played inside. It’s a shame that’s my list, and I think the cornhole is pretty damn awesome.
Decision: It’s complicated
Do you cycle to work? Not a sportswoman. The tour of France ? One of the biggest sporting events in the world. Bikes that look normal but have a motor so you don’t have to pedal? Not a sportswoman. Motorcycle racing? Great sport but not what we’re talking about here.
People who argue that skateboarding isn’t a sport probably aren’t that invested in skateboarding. They just don’t like that the people who are the best in the world at it are still in college.
In the words of my friend, whom I greatly respect and who has had success in the competitive pool business: “My opinion is that I don’t think it should matter. “I think billiards is a sport, but I’m humble enough to bow to an expert (he later came to say billiards was a sport, so I think that makes me the expert) .
Nascar, Indycar, Formula 1 and other similar series have an unfair bad reputation because they “just spin”. Formula 1 (F1) cars reach over 200 km/h and drivers have to train their necks to resist the g-force on their brain and spine. It’s mental and definitely a sport.
Ruling: Obviously a sport
Timbersports cover quite a few disciplines, but the basics are simple. These are primarily strength and agility tests that involve power tools. I’m a fan of all those things. Of course, it’s a sport.
Ruling: It’s a Toss-up
I really want to call it a game, but I saw it on ESPN, and remembering playing tag as a kid reminds me of being out of breath, which backs up the physical argument. I do not know. Maybe I’m out of shape.
It’s my project to define the sport, and it’s me who decides the rules. Monster Jam is a sport for several reasons; it even takes a lot of nerve to decide to do it, the engineering impresses me and frankly, it’s crazy as hell. I also choose to award style points – selectively, because objectivity in journalism is important.
Come on, who do you take me for here? There is no world in which I rule chess as anything other than a game, even though the recent drama in the world of chess puts it on the level of international politics, not to mention sport.
Soap box derby
If F1 and Nascar are sports, I think I get credit for driving worse courses in poorly built vehicles that you built yourself. Plus, it’s funnier than F1 and Nascar, which matters.
Clarification: the WWE genre, not the high school singlet genre. That one is also a sport, however.
“But it’s scripted!” Get out of my face. Wrestlers are athletes, and that’s it. Even if the end of the match is determined before it begins, wrestlers must still be able to complete all moves and be aware of their own safety and that of their opponent. This argument does not even take into account the quantity of actors involved at the same time. Also, you don’t see the wrestlers from the “wrestling is not a sport” contingent, do you? We all know who would win this fight – scripted or not.
Decision: Sport but I love it
As a general rule, I generally defer to the Olympics on what is or is not a sport. If you can win a medal at the Olympics for that, that’s enough for me. However, having said that, it seems like an insult that ping pong – excuse me, table tennis – is on the same level as things like canoe slalom and modern pentathlon.
You could even say it’s more of a sport than real golf.
What more could you ask for? You have points, you have winners and losers, you have speed and physicality, and you have total disregard for physical safety. It’s like hockey only better, and I say that as a hockey fan.
If we talk about horse racing, then it is quite a sport. It has a human participant and is an impressive show of interspecific teamwork. Without a person involved, like greyhound racing, then that’s a whole different article.
I finally break my silence. I’m sick of seeing poker on sports channels because it’s just not a sport. At least they have the decency to only show poker late at night after watching an entire baseball game and then watching that same baseball game again on replay because hopefully the outcome will be different.
The spelling is… well. It’s obviously not a sport, so I guess it must be a game. It’s definitely a competition, and there are winners and losers, who follow the rules that I made so simple at the start of This article. Do you hear that? These are the same rules that come back to taunt me. Mind-boggling. FLABB… you get the point.
I think I’m losing my grip on reality here. I have to do sports. The band is something you spend hours training for, and it requires a huge level of coordination and conditioning. In my heart, I’m still the sportsman who would put a nerd in a locker, but marching band is a sport. This is the final answer.
There you have it: a definitive guide to what a sport is, which you should trust implicitly. This exercise was, to say the least, revealing. I don’t know if I know the sport any better than when I started, but I feel like I learned something about myself, and maybe you too. If you don’t agree with me on my decisions, I’m ready to hear from you, but I won’t change your mind. Please don’t ask me to demonstrate these sports.
This is the opinion of Catherine Galanti, a second-year journalism and communications student in Los Angeles. Email your comments to [email protected] Tweet comments to @LALoyolan and like Loyolan on Facebook.