Wednesday, July 2, 2014


The "Unofficial" 1906 Olympic Games (Athens)
From time to time men will talk of sports and what constitutes a sport. (To be fair, women will talk of sport as well. Just not with the same "know it all" air that most men will exhibit when discussing the topic.)

At work the other day, probably no doubt due to the fact that the World Cup is all the rage right now, we talked of sports. (My friend The Skipper wrote eloquently about the World Cup and soccer just the other day. Now, don't bad mouth soccer - or Fußball as the Germans call it - around me as I dearly love the game. I played it, coached it and watch it when I have the time. We're not here to discuss soccer.)

On occasion the question will come up, "What constitutes a sport?" Such was the discussion at work, the other day. (Not to digress or anything.)

There are many opinions on this topic but I only intend to air those which came up at work the other day. Yes, from time to time we pull our noses away from the grindstone and shoot the breeze for a bit. Helps make the day go by. It's also a "team building" exercise. At least that's what we tell management when they want to know why we're BSing about sports and not actually, you know, working.

Now one opinion that was expressed was that a sport had to be one (or more) humans against one (or more) other humans. The activity had to be strenuous enough to break a sweat and points must be scored in order to determine a winner.

Another caveat proposed by another denizen of the computer lab was that you had to be able to play defense. He clarified this by saying that he didn't consider bowling a sport because while you could have teams, you could get sweaty and score is kept, you couldn't play defense.

At the time I had an image of a guy (wearing suitable padding of course) playing goal tender at a bowling match. I imagine that would be a painful and short-lived experiment.

We didn't come to a consensus about bowling. Though I think it's a sport, I argued that because, "it's not easy and takes some skill to do well." One of my colleagues pointed out that mathematics was also not easy and takes skill to do well. "So is math a sport?"

Nope, no way to play defense.

Curling, is that a sport?

While I actually get a kick out of watching curling at the Winter Olympics, I don't really consider it a sport. I mean come on, look at them, they're wearing suits and carrying brooms!

Wait a minute, you say, they do this at the Olympics which is one of the premiere sporting events of all time!

I have two words for you: synchronized swimming.

Synchronized swimming - Russian team (CC)

My point here is that the Olympics is not really the arbiter of what constitutes a sport and what does not. After all chess is recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Seriously? That kind of lessens the IOC's credibility as to what constitutes a sport.

How about golf?

Arnold Palmer in 1953

How about one of Buck's and WSF's (see here) favorites - Roller Derby?

New Zealand Roller Derby (CC)

Well, it has two teams. They do get sweaty and it looks mighty damn physical. You can score points (though I've never understood how that works) and you can play defense.

So why isn't Roller Derby an Olympic event? They've been playing for a long time!

1950s Roller Derby

Then there's this -

Kickball (CC)

That's right, kickball. It's fun, you get sweaty, you keep score, there are two teams, you play defense, it has all the elements for what I think constitutes a "sport."

Ah, perhaps that was the missing ingredient! FUN! It has to be fun for the participants and perhaps the spectators as well. The WSO was in a kickball league down in Virginia. She and her friends enjoyed the heck out of it. It was actually fun to watch as well. Oh yeah, beer was involved.

Works for me.


  1. If people can bet on it and argue about the outcome, it is a sport.

    1. Not bad Joe. I hadn't even thought about those aspects.

  2. Does Rodeo qualify as a sport? Most participants I know are a taco short of a combination plate. The animals surely play defense.

    1. I think I've seen a bull or two play offense too!

  3. Hah!
    Methinks some folks get confused about sport and athletics.
    Sport involves using a skill... even the definition of skill can be stretched such that it includes playing Texas Hold 'em on ESPN.
    Athletics requires more physical activity.

    BTW - why are we still talking about the World Cup?
    I thought it ended yesterday afternoon [GRINS]

    1. Uh, what?

      (For some the World Cup did end yesterday.)

    2. Sorry, I'm in the camp of "if I wanted to see folks "struggle for ninety minutes to score, I'd take a group of my friends to a bar!"

  4. Oh yeah, beer was involved.

    You hit on the key: It's NOT a sport if you can't drink beer while watching... or even playing... it.

    1. PS: Thanks for the Battle-Born link. Me likee lots!

    2. Beer is one of the reasons I played softball in Germany.

      WSF provided me with the Battle-Born link. It is kind of cool innit?

  5. Anyhing not involving sole use of the mouth - singing, acting, comedy) that can gather an audience?

    I don't get curling either.

  6. Can you work up a sweat? Can you exaggerate,get into a fight over it, belittle others righteously, brag about your other words pretty much exhibit all the better parts of your personality? Spend so much money on a hat or tshirt or jersey you'll be forced to lie to your wife about the cost? Motivate you to eat and drink to excess, or maybe buy a huge TV to watch one event?

    1. Wow. I don't think you'd get much of that in curling.

      Or synchronized swimming.

  7. I think one of the main things is that the activity must NOT rely on judges scoring subjectively (unless, as in boxing, there is the opportunity to end it without judging.)

    And, by the by, I understand curling even though I'm not Canadian. And I like it. A sport? I'd say so, but I won't get into a violent argument with those who consider it "only" a game. It has been aptly called "chess on ice".

    1. I like the no judges angle. Though referees and umpires have some influence in the outcome of some sports.

      As to curling, I defer to your greater knowledge.

      As I mentioned, I will watch it during the Olympics. I avoid figure skating altogether!

  8. I love WSF's comment on rodeo participants - "one taco short of a combination plate". Guess that describes me in my young and immortal days. I used
    to ride bulls in high school and college to make extra money (never made a dime)

    My definition of a sport is very simple and you nailed it at the end of another great blog, it's got to be fun. But beer certainly helps.

    1. I think WSF speaks as one who knows. Sounds like you do too! ;-)

      The secret to life: beer and fun.


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