Scout S, Junior
As collegiate Quidditch teams popularize around the world and hundreds participate in the UK’s annual cheese rolling competition, the word ‘sport’ becomes a vague term.
The Oxford dictionary defines a sport as, “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Thus, for an activity to become a sport, there has to be a level of physical strain, technicality and competition.
When I was little, I was the champion red-light-green-light player who would compete against my father and neighborhood kids. Although this activity involved important learned strategies and physical exertion, I have yet to hear from a D1 university.
There are many varieties of sports that can be sorted by the demand for skill and or physical effort. Some sports lean more towards the side of technicality rather than physical strain. Old, affluent, beer-bellied men often popularize these hand-eye coordination sports, such as golf or darts. Although lacking a visible amount of physical strain, there are significant levels of skill and competition within this sport category. Yes, coordination does require a microscopic amount of physical activity.
The “classic” sports are usually evenly balanced between skill and physical strain and involve some kind of ball or object (frisbee, basketball etc). This section can be categorized by the fact that the goal of the sport is not to push your body to its limits, although this often happens, but to win the game.
Some sports require little skill and centralize on being physically demanding. This category is mainly the triad of swimming, running and crew. These are the athletes that are the real “studs.” Distinguishing this section is simple, the goal of the sport is not to win, although that is can occur, but to push yourself to your body’s physical limit. A sport is classified in this section when athletes show a lack of mental stability before a competitive event. The cross-country community proudly displays its seemingly life-threatening sport with the comforting pre-race quote, “The best race is suicide pace and today looks like a good day to die.” – Pre Fontaine.
However, some people think these sport categories are exclusive and narrow. The problem is that people are taking personal offense when their card game is not considered a physical activity. There is nothing wrong with a game not being validated as a sport (feel better UK bridge players). There seems to be a universal longing for every single game to be labeled as a sport. If we continue this overly inclusive validation of merrymaking activities, then come the 2024 Olympics, frolicking and Apples to Apples will open the Games.
So how do we distinguish between an actual sport and unathletic people making ridiculous pastimes? The final factor that constitutes a sport is its popularity. This includes how long the activity has been around and its level of organization and participation. If Jesus and the Romans played ultimate frisbee then perhaps less people would have a grudge against the calf-length short game. Thus, an activity needs to be accepted and liked within a community before it can be labeled as an official sport. Certain cities may validate an activity to be a sport while, another place may define it as whacky voodoo. For example, with Seattle’s inclusive nature, ultimate frisbee is holding onto a tolerable reputation. But according to South Alaskan blogger Cleavie Wonder, “Frisbee is more associated with picnics at the beach and stupid pet tricks than athletic competition. Anytime an activity is more exciting when dogs participate there’s a problem. If you have to share the spotlight with a Golden Retriever, what does that say about the activity you’re engaging in?”
The philosophical-cosmic question of what a sport is branches into different deciding factors. First, the game has to have a level of technicality, competition, and physical strain. However, even if this activity does meet this requirement, it may still not be validated as a sport. Whether or not an activity is a sport really comes down to where you are and how popular that activity is within your community. So, the next time old biddy and buffer demand the recognition of Pictionary, the result will evidently infuriate the nursing homes.