Professional sports are the pinnacle of years of hard work, dedication, and a little bit of good luck mixed together to provide a means of living while playing a game. They are also the pinnacle of vicarious living, watched worldwide by fans who were unsuccessful in chasing their childhood dreams.
The chase is arduous, but the rewards are well worth the blood, sweat, and tears shed through hours of workouts, practices, scrimmages, successes, and failures.
Once you get to the top, there are legions of adoring fans, people who don't know you from Adam but will support you through thick and through thin as you chase the dream they missed.
But there are some so-called "sports" that need re-categorizing. These hangers-on of the sporting world float about the edges of the peripheral vision, often times not receiving any attention but once every four years when the Olympics rolls through.
Even then, they are relegated to minimal coverage, sometimes not even being mentioned unless they win a medal and there is a lull in programming between the 100-meter Freestyle and the Women's Uneven Bars.
In no particular order, these are the "sports" I feel would be better served with reclassification as "regional pastime."
The premise is this: The lead, then the second, then the third, also known as the vice skip, then the fourth, usually the skip—but not always; he may go first, which means the first goes fourth, unless the first goes second, then the second goes fourth, or sometimes third—take turns pushing a rock, or the curling stone—a specially crafted block of granite with a handle, which is pretty cool in its own right; I saw an episode on how they make them on the Discovery Channel once—down the curling sheet, also known as the ice, 16 times from one house to the other.
The stones are released before the hog line closest to you, but they have to travel past the other hog line to count.
If you get closest to the button, you get points scored for each one closer than your opponent's button...wait, closer than their...
Heck with it. This is a game made up by bored people with nothing better to do than create a game with more rules than golf. And that takes some doing.
Is it any wonder that this game is most popular in regions of the world that are snow-locked seven to eight months out of the year?
Shuffleboard on Expert Level? Yes.
Sport? Not a chance.
Did you ever, as a child, go out on your sled, find the biggest hill you could, get a running start, and try to break the sound barrier to the bottom?
Sometimes you took a buddy with you, and occasionally you ended up with broken bones while the sound barrier stayed obstinately intact.
Now, put a cool-looking, streamlined, fiberglass shell around your sled, stick it into a big ice track, and wear a helmet.
The plus side of the luge is that it can be done with or without ice.
The downside is that, while qualifying—as George Carlin once said—as a risk for serious bodily injury, it falls short in the "that's what I want to do when I grow up" category.
Standing behind a line, wearing a hat that makes me think of Gilligan, standing in the shade between matches and drinking bottled water does not impress me.
Trudge out to a deer stand before dark, shoot at moving targets through the trees, and bring home dinner, then maybe we'll talk.
I've always dreamed of owning a sailboat. There is something about sailing out into that great blue divide with nothing powering you but the wind.
Modern competition yachting, however, is a different matter. Little bitty boat plus great big sail does NOT equal "looks like fun" to me.
Besides, not everyone can afford to do it. If it isn't available to the general population, it can't be a sport.
It's my list. I make the rules.
No, Tennis does not make this list. I was looking for something else, and this picture came up.
Besides, why would anyone not consider her an athlete? Check out her shoulders.
Okay, tiny plastic ball, small wooden paddles, total domination by one country since forever, and as much excitement as watching paint dry.
Plus, when your game has been modified by college frat boys and turned into both a drinking game and an excuse to make YouTube videos, you have a problem.
But you don't have a sport.
Not talented enough to dance competitively on land.
Not fast enough to compete in swimming events.
I know, let's combine the two!
Besides, there isn't a men's event. Not that I'm advocating, mind you.
That would be shuttlecock.
Nicknamed a birdie.
Played by wanna-be tennis players who can't handle a 100+ mph serve.
Raising the net to increase the level of difficulty doesn't compensate enough.
Diving: the art of leaving the ground from a high vantage point and entering the water head first without knocking yourself out or making a big splash.
Some skill required, yes.
Sport, not really.
Because this guy is a Tour professional, and after 26 years of trying, I still can't figure out my slice.
Why does Gymnastics qualify as a sport when diving doesn't?
A) More variety. Gymnasts compete on a different apparatuses.
B) While they also flip through the air, they land on their feet...and stay there.
Not a lot of give on the floor.
I'm not totally sexist, you know...
What does Ashton Kutcher have to do with sports? Nothing really, except he's married to Demi Moore, who was married to Bruce Willis, who was in a movie with Michael Clark Duncan—whose Momma wouldn't let him play football because she was afraid her baby would get hurt (can you picture him as a linebacker? Holy crap!)—who was in a movie with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who played football for the University of Miami.
Plus, he shows up at a lot of professional sporting events, usually wearing a baseball cap.
Look, I know it's been around for centuries, but come on, really?
Games can go on for days depending on how the scoring goes, the guy with the stick looks like a half dressed hockey goalie—pick a game, pard—and the "bowler" is trying to hit the "wicket" with his "cricket" ball.
It's stick ball with rules.
The word "wicket" is included in the rules. And they aren't rules, either.
They are The Laws of Cricket, and they are in code.
This supposed sport requires absolutely no fitness regime whatsoever. You even get to wear a brace on your wrist for extra support.
Good for a date, nice for a birthday party.
Great reason to get drunk with your buddies on a Saturday night.
Not a sport.
Rowing is a means of propelling yourself from point A to point B across water.
Just because you do it wearing too small shorts and a visor does not make it a sport.
This is not a sport. It is a demonstration of physics and geometry.
And a good way to make beer money off the drunks at the bar.
And amaze your friends with your "trick" shots.
But not a sport.
Why is poker shown on ESPN? Seriously?
Poker is a game of chance that used to be played by seedy men in seedier saloons and flophouses while they waited for the next train, stage coach, or showdown at high noon.
The only thing sporting about it was if the resident gun slinger let the greenhorn draw first in the shoot out over who was cheating whom.
No guns are allowed in casinos these days, so not a sport.
And there you have it, folks. My list of the top 15 sports that are not really sports.
Keeping score is not enough. Requiring skill to execute your chosen game doesn't do it. Having a governing body that manages the rule book does not a sporting event make.
I know I missed some, and I know I probably put some on here that you disagree with.
Bring your thoughts and opinions, and we'll discuss it.