Open Mic: The Definition Of Sports

BAnalyst IJuly 1, 2008

What is a sport? Some say a sport can be something as small as curling.

Well the dictionary says that a sport is "an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.". Yet the dictionary also says a sport can be an "amorous dalliance" or "to mutate". So I'm not going to follow the dictionary, because I usually don't see Tony Romo and Allen Iverson mutating in the middle of a game into a merman. So here we go; the three rules that I think define a sport.

I will start off with stating every activity that most people view as a sport, and what I believe is a possible sport: football, baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer, volleyball, golf, tennis, poker, dance (cheerleading), competitive eating, cycling, cricket, swimming, badminton, auto racing, curling, billiards, boxing, BMX, track and field, field hockey, figure skating, lacrosse, fishing, gymnastics, rowing, wrestling, (water)polo, rugby, and softball.

1. Physical action with skill. In the game you need to have some kind of action that involves skill where you are moving around or making contact with another player.

Poker, competitive eating, auto racing, billiards, BMX, and fishing are the only activities to not move on. Poker has absolutely no physical action at all (reaching for the potato chips doesn't count). Competitive eating also has absolutely no physical action (eating the potato chips doesn't count either).In auto racing you are just sitting in a car for a while, in billiards you just walk around a table a few times, in BMX you are on a bike most of the time, and in fishing you are mostly sitting.

2. Mental Action. In the game you need to have points where you need to think about what you are going to do and what you need to do.

Dance, curling, figure skating, gymnastics and rowing are the only activities to not move on. They don't move on because in each you already know what you are going to do before it. In dance, you know your moves before you go in. In curling, you there isn't much thinking involved during the action. In figure skating, you know your routine. In gymnastics you also know your routine. Finally, in rowing, there isn't much than can be thought about while you row.

3. Head-to-Head Action. At some point in the game you need to be going head to head with another. You need to be battling it out with an opponent.

That takes out none of the activities. At some point in each activity you are racing another, or going 1-on-1 with another.

So we are left with: football, baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer, volleyball, golf, tennis, cycling, cricket, swimming, badminton, boxing, track and field, field hockey, lacrosse, wrestling, (water)polo, rugby, and softball.

That leaves twenty sports, which is a lot less than I thought there would be. I had no planning on sports before this. I just hopped right in and winged it. This is my list.

Some close calls were gymnastics, BMX, and rowing. They qualify for two of the three, but not all three. And that isn't enough to be a sport in my opinion.

All in all, the definition of sports is not a mutation or an amorous dalliance, but is physical action involving skill, mental action, and head to head action.