What is a “Sport”?

Yesterday Nate wrote of UNC football’s positives and negatives, but also claimed that bowling, cheerleading, golf and NASCAR were not sports.  This sparked a brief and lighthearted debate by Nate, William and myself on whether NASCAR and/or Mario Kart 64 could be classified as sports.  William posted a link to Wikipedia’s passage on sports terminology.  There are two sections I’ll visit:

The term “sport” is sometimes extended to encompass all competitive activities, regardless of the level of physical activity. Both games of skill and motor sport exhibit many of the characteristics of physical sports, such as skill, sportsmanship, and at the highest levels, even professional sponsorship associated with physical sports. Air sports, billiards, bridge, chess, motorcycle racing, and powerboating are all recognized as sports by the International Olympic Committee with their world governing bodies represented in the Association of the IOC Recognised International Sports Federations.

This definition is bullshit.  I’m more inclined to agree with this next passage from Wikipedia:

Highly recognized definition of “sport” on EU level is established by the Council of Europe: “all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels.

I wouldn’t necessarily agree with “all forms” but this is a better definition than the first passage.  A sport must be a highly physical activity.  That’s why I disagree with William about NASCAR.  There are a ton of Olympic events that I don’t think constitute a sport. Table Tennis?  I’ve played a lot of ping pong in my day and I don’t see how it’s a sport.  That Ribbon Twirling Event?  I don’t even have anything funny to say about it because, shit, come on now. Shooting?  You are laying down while shooting a gun.  That’s one of the laziest things I’ve ever heard of.  Why don’t American rednecks win this event every year?

In recent years there’s been a lot of talk of “e-sports” and whether poker is a sport.  I’ve played a lot of video games and I’ve played a lot of poker.  I haven’t ever been physically stressed out by either unless some thirteen year old is talking shit to me on XBox live while he crushes me in a game of Call of Duty.  I rage for about five seconds then I talk shit to him and tell him I’m going to go to the bar, drink some beer and bang some hot girls while his Mom makes him do his pre-algebra homework before bedtime at 9:00.**  Both of these activities take some semblance of mental and physical skill, but nothing compared to an actual sport such as basketball or football.

** Do my urban planning homework and go to bed at 8:30 after eating a dinner of beans and ramen.

Even though I’ve given vast amounts of scientific evidence people will still disagree with me on the definition of what a sport is.  Everyone has their own opinion and everyone’s opinion is inevitably right.  Arguments of this nature will go around in circles until someone throws their hands in the air in frustration and walks away.  What’s better: Playstation, Nintendo or XBox?  What constitutes a taco versus a burrito?  Duke or UNC?

Why do we, as humans, continue to have these nonsensical arguments?  I do it because I like to argue about dumb things.  Surely there is a better reason.  Some people are extremely invested in their beliefs and will defend them kicking and screaming until they fall into their coffins.  These types of things don’t affect our daily lives but we get so worked up over them. Why?  Someone provide me with some insight.

This entry was posted in Miscellaneous. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to What is a “Sport”?

Register |

  1. NastyEmu says:

    We argue over unimportant things because arguing is competitive, and competition is fun.
    It’s the same reason women’s basketball isn’t a sport.

    1. William says:

      Is arguing a sport?

      1. NastyEmu says:

        Sports need to be competitive, but being competitive alone doesn’t make something a sport. I have to say no to arguing, if only to keep sports talk radio hosts from claiming to be athletes.

      2. daniel says:

        according to some academics, humans only evolved the ability to reason only so that they could win arguments. not unlike the way that i evolved to be able to shoot the ball from behind the backboard only so that i could win at HORSE. are either of these things sport?


  2. William says:

    I have a hard time viewing anything that requires the opinion of a judge to determine the winner to be a sport. Things like figure skating, gymnastics, cheerleading, that ribbon thing you referred from in the Olympics, etc. Competition? Sure. Athletic? Absolutely. Sport? No.

    I don’t think NASCAR is a sport in the same sense that basketball, football, or soccer is, but I think it falls into a different category. Motor sports. It probably isn’t as physically grueling as any of the previously mentioned sports, but I think it does require athleticism to be successful. Extremely quick reflexes, strong hand-eye coordination, mental endurance and the ability able to sustain those things in a 100+ degree environment for 4+ hours. Even so, I would never try to lump it in with the sports I mentioned above.

    Oh, and I can easily answer your questions:

    • Playstation
    • Taco = hard shell; Burrito = soft shell
    • UNC
    1. zack says:

      What about boxing? Its outcome is often subjective and left up to judges but I’d definitely consider it a sport.

      1. Shane says:

        Yeah, I agree with most of William’s post, but I might have to take issue with the judging aspect too. Sports with judges can be corrupted, for sure, but gymnastics and boxing surely have to qualify. Those are some of the best athletes in the world. And when you think about it, “judges” in the form of officials and referees populate every game. And they can screw up a result just as well as anyone.

      2. William says:

        How about we add another filter: Can you participate without that extra individual (judge or referee) and still determine a winner?

        Boxing = Yes
        Gymnastics = No

        Like I said. They are definitely athletes. It’s just that gymnastics, IMO, is not a true sport. It is a judged competition. Synchronized swimming, Figure skating, Skateboarding, Surfing, Snowboard halfpipe all require amazing athleticism, but they don’t fit the criteria. I think that I’m a pretty good athlete, but those are all things that I could not do competitively. To me they are all judged competitions, not true sports. Think of them more like beauty pageants or a battle of the bands.

    2. Dr. K says:

      Please give softshell tacos some credit, they are my favorite.
      Tacos are folded in half, burritos are rolled up.

  3. Nate says:

    All this is irrelevant, as long as we all agree that cheerleading is not a sport. I’m tired of arguing with females about the error of their ways.

    1. William says:

      I can agree with that 100%.

      I think my girlfriend’s father said it best. When she was little and wanted to do cheerleading he told her, “You can either be an athlete, or an athletic supporter…which is it gonna be?” She quit cheerleading and joined the swim team.

  4. Nick G says:

    Hemingway said it best: “There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”

  5. Anonymous says:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *