What Makes a Sport a Sport?

Image via Rugby-Pioneers

Todd Werkhoven raises an interesting question in his post C’mon.  Be a Sport.  He believes that not all things that are considered sports are, in fact, sports.  He also makes a very valid point that people usually get heated when you tell them you don’t consider what they do a sport.

So what, exactly, makes an activity a sport?  Werkhoven maintains that, in order for something to be considered a sport, there has to be an offense and a defense, that there must be a point system, and that there must be “some sort of difficult physical aspect.”  (He also maintains that he can overrule the previous points. Since I enjoy overruling and do so often in my house, I won’t argue that point.)

But I don’t wholly agree with Werkhoven here, and neither does the dictionary.

From dictionary.com:

Sport: (noun) 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.

Only one of the examples used by dictionary.com contains an offense and a defense.  What about the Olympics?  By Werkhoven’s definition, the luge, bobsledding, track, etc. wouldn’t be considered sports. 

I’ll agree that sport fishing shouldn’t be considered a sport.  Anything you can do while sitting in a boat slamming Bud Light shouldn’t have the word “sport” tacked onto the front of it, but a lot of activities that don’t have an offense and defense should still be considered sports.  

Here.  I’ll randomly pick an activity and explain why it should be considered a sport.  Let’s talk about, oh, I don’t know, GOLF. 

Golf is, arguably, one of the hardest games to play.  There are about 75 things you have to concentrate on at once, and that’s only on the tee box.  You’re forced to move in the most uncomfortable positions possible while looking graceful and at ease.  It takes a tremendous amount of skill, discipline, and mental focus to play golf.   YYou must compete other golfers as well as the course itself.  And as the definition above mentions, golf requires both skill and physical prowess. 

Do you think there are certain activities that shouldn’t be considered sports?  What are they?  



Filed under golf

4 responses to “What Makes a Sport a Sport?

  1. Hey! Thanks for picking up on my little tongue and cheek article about what should be considered a sport. While I admit there are many holes in my theory, I still waffle on golf being a sport. If we start delineating things that take skill, discipline, and mental focus, there are hundreds of other things that would then be considered a sport, too. Plate spinning? Sewing a wedding dress from scratch? Drawing? There are lots of things that are difficult hobbies you train for over the years to get better…should they all be sports too? 🙂

    • Hey, if plate spinning ever becomes a sport, I’m quitting golf. 🙂 There are huge holes in some of my theories, too. That’s why I’m so fond of overruling.

      I think that if it’s an activity that requires some sort of athletic physical exertion, skill, and competition, it can be considered a sport. That opens the door for great debate on what can be a sport, but I don’t think that wedding dress sewing will ever be considered a sport because there isn’t really any athletic physical exertion. Just like I’d never consider pie eating a sport.

    • Hitting a baseball also take skill, discipline, and mental focus; but also, like golf, there is an objective (not subjective) outcome, i.e. hitting the ball safely in order to score.

  2. W. Griffin

    “Only one of the examples used by dictionary.com contains an offense and a defense. ” WHAT??? I assume you are reffering to baseball as the one example. No offense/defense in wrestling? Ridiculous! A wrestler, in between periods is literally required to choose “offense or defense” to start the next period. And there is certainly offense and defense in golf. The golfer provides the offense in trying to get the ball in the hole and the golf course provides the defense in preventing the ball from going in the hole. Golf courses are specifically designed for defense (sand traps, water hazards, sloping greens, etc.)

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