What makes a sport a sport?

by iGanja 21. June 2006 03:11

And now, a short lesson on what makes a sport a sport.  I suppose I could blog on this all by itself, but without a (non sport) to ridicule directly, I think I will just go over the basics here in preparation to ridicule soccer later.  In order for an athletic activity to be classified a sport, the activity must meet four criteria.

First and foremost, a sport is a game.  Games include objective scoring (in other words no judging,) rules, strategy, are played head to head and the bulk of those playing are doing so for competition.  This criterion eliminates all judged competitions: gymnastics, ice skating, diving, etc, and many timed competitions: alpine skiing, bobsled, kayaking, etc. and those activities that are not done competitively by most that participate in it: cycling, jet skiing, hang gliding, rock climbing, etc.

Second, a sport is a competition between two teams.  There are NO individual sports.  This criterion does not attempt to demean those activities contested between individuals.  There are certainly activities that require a great deal of athleticism, training, conditioning, talent and skill, but if played as an individual, it is not a sport.  So, although they meet the first requirement, the following are eliminated as sports: nearly all track and field, most swimming, singles tennis, golf, bowling, chess, fishing, target games, lumberjacking and poker (and the fact that I actually have to mention poker is reason enough to write this rant in the first place.  ESPN, are you listening?)

Third, the game must include a single object (a ball if you will) that is manipulated by both teams.  Any kind of relay (which eliminates the rest of swimming,) auto racing, rowing, yachting, team bowling, etc. are eliminated by this criterion.

And last, there must be opportunity for great bodily injury as an integral part of the game.  By great bodily injury, I mean injured to the point where one cannot continue to play, and by integral part of the game I mean foreseeable and common to the activity, not a bizarre accident.  Dropping a curling stone on one’s foot can certainly cause injury, but it is not a normal part of the game.  Hence curling, doubles table tennis, team jenga, crochet, doubles badminton and “The great race” are all eliminated by this criterion.

So, here is the short list of actual SPORTS: (feel free to add as long as you can make a case based on the four rules above.)

Baseball, Football, Hockey, Basketball, Rugby, Volleyball, Water Polo, Cricket, Lacrosse, Doubles Tennis and Soccer.

To iganja’s chagrin, soccer and doubles tennis do meet the minimum requirements to be a sport.  However, both have aspects that truly warrant ridicule.

Let's take doubles tennis.  You can admittedly get injured playing tennis (being stabbed in the back by a fan not withstanding,) but I refuse to give any credit to a sport that is played with fuzzy balls.

And finally we come to the scourge of the sport community, soccer.  There really couldn’t be a more excruciatingly painful way to spend even five minutes of my life than to be forced to watch a soccer match.  …and you all thought baseball was boring.


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