Is This a Sport?

Nick Dimengo@@itsnickdimengoFeatured ColumnistNovember 30, 2013

Is This a Sport?

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Remember that time a few weeks ago when former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb said on Fox Sports Live that recently-crowned Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson isn't an athlete because he, "sits in a car and drives?"

    Yeah, well that got me thinking—what are some other "sports" that might be in question?

    That's why I looked wide and far—or just all over the Internet—to get an idea of who should and shouldn't constitute as being an athlete, by digging up a few activities that may or may not be labeled as sports.

    What do you think, are these sports?

Honorable Mention: Tee-Ball

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    I'm not saying that tee-ball isn't fun—and not a crucial part in teaching the basics of baseball to youngsters—but there's no way in hell anyone can call this a sport.

    First off, just look at this picture and think back to how common something like this is during a game, with a ton of different kids leaping on the ball just for the heck of it.

    Second, kids aren't paying attention to what's going on at all. They're more interested in flying butterflies or their parents waving to them from the stands.

    Lastly, hitting a ball off a tee is something that takes zero skill—even if you are just five or six years old.

    I could go on for days, but I'll stop with those key points as to why tee-ball isn't a sport.

    Verdict: Not a sport.


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    Don't get me wrong, I consider Tiger Woods an elite athlete.

    But while Tiger trains like a marine, some of the other players on tour look like they'd rather eat a bag of potato chips, a burger and down some beer like the rest of us do before hitting the links.

    In the words of Happy Gilmore, "Golf requires a goofy shirt and a fat ass," meaning that a person doesn't have to be in the best of shape to swing the club.

    Verdict: Sport.

Race Car Driving

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    Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

    Just like Donovan McNabb admitted on Fox Sports Live, I'm not so sure race car driving should be considered a sport as much as it's just an activity.

    I know some pretty damn good New York cab drivers who might give these professional drivers a run for their money when given an open track, so that's a factor in my claim.

    Much respect to the drivers who have the guts to be in a car going 180 miles per hour—and a live race is seriously exhilarating—I just don't know if driving around in circles is a sport?

    Verdict: Sport.

Bass Fishing

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    I know that bass fishing is a competition between people, but it's going to take more than that to convince me that it's actually a sport.

    Much like golf, when people look forward to retirement so they have more time to relax and fish, it's tough to label it a sport.

    Seeing this guy catch a largemouth bass with just a hook on a string and his bare hands only proves to me it takes nothing but luck and little skill.

    Come to think of it, pretty much anything that was on the Great Outdoor Games could be listed here, too.

    Verdict: Not a sport.


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    Does it take skill to bowl anything over about 200 regularly?

    Of course it does—otherwise we'd all be over to do it.

    It takes a hell of a lot of discipline and mental toughness to stay focused as a bowler, but the same could be said for someone who has to sit in a bunch of meetings all day—and I'm pretty sure there isn't a sport called "Cubicle" out there.

    Pro bowlers are obviously athletes, but when the majority of players are either drunk or use bumpers to help up their score, it's just an activity to me.

    Verdict: Not a sport.


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    Chris McGrath/Getty Images

    While seeing something like this incredible pool shot leaves me speechless, it's nothing more than a trick.

    And I'm not trying to say that pool players aren't talented at their craft who could absolutely sink pretty much every shot I miss while on the table at a bar, but do they break a sweat?


    Are they doing anything active?


    For that reason, I can't call it a true sport.

    Verdict: Not a sport.


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    When doing some research, I came across the official rules of curling and just about lost my mind trying to keep up with all of them.

    Bottom line is this—curling takes limited skill and calls for nothing more than a solid touch on the stone and strong forearms to sweep the ice as it slides.

    Shuffleboard at both the bar and the park are fun too, but it's a way to pass time, not to take seriously as true competition.

    The only saving grace here is that the Olympics honor it as a sport, so I guess I should too.

    Verdict: Sport.


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    Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

    Yeah sure, Robin Hood would argue that this is a sport. But we're not in Renaissance Times anymore, bro, so let's just call it what it is—a way to waste some time.

    I understand that the Olympics recognize it as a sport, it's just that unless the target is moving in between trees in an open field, archery is something that we've all been doing since we started going to summer camp in middle school.

    I was lenient with the Olympics reasoning on the last slide for curling, but I can't use that same explanation here—sorry archers.

    Verdict: Not a sport.


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    Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

    While the aforementioned archery at least requires a bit more difficulty in properly loading an arrow onto the bow, darts dumbs it down a bit more, using a player's arm to fire the darts at a board.

    Yes, professional darts players are fortunate enough to make money to toss a sharp object at a cork board, but all darts remind me of are the plastic-tipped versions that just bounce off the board, frustrating the hell out of me for not counting.

    That's a problem that prohibits this game from being a sport—in my opinion.

    Verdict: Not a sport.


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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    Would I want to be a 23-year-old dude who just won $8.3 million for playing a few games of poker like Ryan Riess did?

    I'm not an idiot, so obviously I would.

    That still doesn't make this activity a sport though.

    It takes a certain amount of skill and risk, but anyone who's honest with themselves knows that a lot of poker has to do with luck—and when a game depends more on luck than anything else, I just can't believe it's a sport.

    Verdict: Not a sport.

Frisbee Golf

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    It's a hell of a lot of fun to go out to a park and toss around a few discs with friends when the weather's nice. But much like real golf, frisbee golf probably shouldn't be considered too much of a sport.

    I know there are a lot of people who love this activity and are going to disagree with me on this one, but when someone who has never played can beat someone who has been doing it for years, there's a real problem with how much practice and skill it takes.

    Verdict: Not a sport.

Jai Alai

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    I'm sure you've seen this activity most commonly played in parts outside of the U.S.—like on Jackass a few years ago—but can we really call Jai Alai a sport?

    It looks like it'd be a lot of fun to play and would require some getting used to on slinging the ball with that xistera thing.

    I'll give it fair due by saying it's really entertaining to watch.

    Verdict: Sport.


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    Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

    Now I'm not dumb enough to go up to a pro bodybuilder and tell him that what he does for a living isn't really a sport as much as it's a hobby, but that's just me.

    Bottom line is this—ripped dudes who spend hours in the gym each day, tan, shave and oil themselves up might be in great shape, but they're not athletes.

    The only reason any of these dudes sweat when competing is when the hot lights gleam on them—and that should be a problem to everyone who honestly thinks this is a sport.

    Verdict: Not a sport.

Extreme Ironing

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    Go ahead and laugh if you want to, but yes, extreme ironing is actually something that has a world championship for each year.

    What does the activity entail?

    As you'd imagine from the name itself, it's participants ironing things from extreme places.

    So next time you struggle spraying starch on that button-down of yours, just imagine doing it on a kayak or while riding a wave—and be thankful that you don't want to try it out yourself.

    I honestly can't believe I even had to add this one on here.

    Verdict: Not a sport.

Competitive Eating

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    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    Like the majority of these activities on this list, just because people are competing against one-another in something doesn't mean that what they're doing should be looked at as a sport—otherwise rock, paper, scissors would be a sport.

    I applaud anyone who can devour 60 hot dogs in five minutes—though I'd rather not watch it.

    Besides being absolutely disgusting, competitive eaters also shouldn't be considered athletes—because they don't play a sport!

    Verdict: Not a sport.


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    Image via John Li / Getty Images

    Believe it or not, gurning is actually something that people refer to as a sport in the friendly confines of the United Kingdom.

    If it were up to me though, well, come on, there's a reason it's No. 1 on my list!

    Assuming you're unfamiliar with this bizarre activity—and I don't blame you if you aren't—the premise of it is to put a horse harness around a person's neck and make the most ridiculous facial expression known to man.

    Sounds like fun—when I'm about a case of Natty deep.

    Verdict: Not a sport.