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.

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