Open Mic: Sport: An Ambiguous Term Causing Pointless Controversy

Ian RobinettSenior Analyst IJuly 2, 2008

An ongoing argument between self-proclaimed word gurus is often "What is really a "sport?"

Think about it!  What really constitutes whether or not an activity should be considered a sport?

In America today, we might consider baseball, football, hockey, and basketball to be our main sports.  Four activities that many Americans would consider our fundamentals.  We also have eating hot dogs, playing cards, darts, Scrabble, paper/rock/scissors, and arm wrestling labeled as "sports."

So what really should be considered a "sport?"

My opinion is simple.  A "sport" is exactly its definition states.  It is an activity governed by a set of rules, and in some way, shape, or form, is competitive.

By this definition almost any activity can be considered a "sport," but this brings about a problem of association.  The word "sport" is often closely affiliated with the word "athlete."  Many times people do not realize these are two different terms.

An athlete, by definition, is someone who competes by means of physical exertion or physical skill.  So bowlers, golfers, ping pong players, dodge ball players, divers would be considered athletes.  However, by this definition, if you compete in a sport, that doesn't always make you an "athlete."

Poker, eating hot dogs, pumpkin seed spitting, underwater basket weaving, all should be classified as "sports," but the participants are not putting any particular effort of physical exertion or physical skill.  They fit the definition, and therefore receive the credit of being a "sport," but participants are being wrongly labeled "athletes."

This debate all comes down to how individuals view the definition of a "sport."  The definition of a "sport" or an "athlete" can of course be interpreted differently.  This is more about the idea that having a differing opinion is wrong and to that I say, go take a flying leap.