It is interesting to me that the definition of sport is so convoluted. The following are examples of characteristics of an activity that have been used to shape the definition of sport: the use of a ball or an object, a score or tabulation, required physical exertion, required physical skill, a large following or a listing at the Olympic games.
Is chess denied the sport label because no score is kept and it involves limited physical exertion and skill? Poker has grown so much that it is featured on television regularly (and not just on ESPN), but is this enough to make it into the ranks of sport?
Each year we listen to middle school children spell words spectacularly (and, I don’t know about you, but I would be sent on an early trip to the showers) on national television, but are they engaging in sport? I would love to hear someone try to tell a marathoner that a 26.5 mile run is not a sport because there is no use of a ball or an object.
Sport: 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.
The loose nature of this definition is what causes all the fun. It can be argued that anything can fall under this umbrella, so we treat the topic as a subjective one.
I have many friends who have Kerry’d (flip-flopped) on activities like synchronized swimming, "What?! That is nothing but choreographed dancing in the water, and they can’t even dance! Now if you could get the swimmers to dance like The Fly Girls, I would be forced to change my stance!"
After years of conversation, they have come around because they now understand the rigorous training and body control involved to get to such a level of precision that is necessary for success at a high class competition. However, we are still waiting on Rosie Perez to jump into the synchronized swimming arena.
This weekend in New York, we will have America’s Independence and Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest. While I have never been to the event, my interest grows each year.
It uses no ball and it is only viewed once a year, but this competition is amazing to me. I will admit that my interest has risen each year as Kobayashi dominated. The “Most Dominant Athlete of Our Generation” discussion is for another time, but clearly Kobayashi was in the running as he devoured hot dogs and blew the Fridge away.
However, his dominance is in the past. As a result of last year’s upset, this year’s competition includes added drama because Kobayashi will attempt to get back on the top of the mountain among hot dog superstars!
That would be the equivalent of the feeling fans would get on the eve of the Tour De France if Lance Armstrong lost the year before and was poised to recapture his rightful place at the top of the sport!
Does it get any better than that? Say what you want about definitions. Although this event uses no ball or object, and is not in the Olympics, it gets me excited, and that is all I need to call it a sport!