Definition of Sports

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I was watching a Red Bull Crashed Ice event over the weekend and I was compelled to write about this topic.  For those of you that don’t know what Crashed Ice is, or ice cross downhill which is the name of the actual event, basically it’s a downhill race on ice between a bunch of dudes in hockey gear.  Sounds awesome, right?  Duh.  Of course it’s awesome.

But… is it a sport?  Nope.  Not in my opinion.  So what is the definition of sport?  Well, if you check the dictionary you’ll find no less than 9 definitions ranging from competitive physical activity to “a person who lives a jolly, extravagant life”.  These definitions of sports simply don’t fit with what I believe sports to be.  For some reason, people want to label so many things as sports.  If they’re popular activities then they’re almost guaranteed to be labeled as sports.  Remember when Texas Hold ‘em blew up and the World Series of Poker was the only thing that ESPN played?  People were quick to call POKER a sport.  That’s when it got ridiculous.

I’ve had this conversation numerous times over the years with various people regarding all different kinds of ”sports”.  Now, for some reason people are very sensitive about their perceived idea of sports and if you challenge those ideas I’ve found that they get pretty angry pretty quickly.  In order to avoid getting pissed off you have to decide, what is your definition of sports?  Is it as simple as physical activity governed by a set of rules that is often engaged in competitively as one dictionary definition states?  That definition  is too broad and cumbersome for me and doesn’t fit what I believe sports to be.

What’s my definition then?  It’s very simple.  A sport is an athletic game that has a method of scoring.  I had to add in the last part about the method of scoring because I think that’s an essential part of any sports, and without that short line so many things could be construed as sports.  The four big sports in the US (Football, Baseball, Basketball and Hockey)meet this criteria easily.  Soccer, the biggest sport in the world, fits this definition as well.

Now… one clear distinction needs to be made and people need to understand that just because something isn’t a sport, does not take anything away from it.  In fact, many people will argue that something’s a sport just because they like it so much and they’re passionate about it.  I don’t understand why that means it has to be a sport.

Now this is where I’m going to piss off more than half of you by telling you what I think are not sports.  This one stings and this is where I lose people every time.  By my own definition I do not believe that boxing and MMA are sports.  This actually makes people angry.  I’ve had this discussion with people and when I bring up boxing and the fact that I don’t believe it’s a sport, I lose people for good.  All reasoning seems to go out the window and the discussion turns into an argument.  I am a HUGE MMA fan.  I love the UFC.  I can enjoy it without having to believe that it’s a sport, but for some reason this is a huge hot button issue for some people.

OK then, that’s fine if you disagree but tell me then what YOUR definition of a sport is and take a moment to think what activities that includes and excludes.  And again, just because something is not labeled as a “sport” does not mean it’s lame or stupid, or even that it isn’t extremely athletic.  I believe there’s a difference between a sport and an athletic competition such as wrestling, swimming, or running.  One simple test for me is whether or not you can say something like, let’s play a game of Tennis.  Or let’s play a game of football.  If you can, then it fits more closely in line with my definition of sports.

What’s your definition?