Definition of sports sparks debate, not easily settled
Published: Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Updated: Sunday, February 14, 2010 23:02
While flipping through channels a few days ago I was stunned when I heard, "$12 million up for grabs, the biggest prize in sports! Coming up next, the final table of the 2006 World Series of Poker."
I was stunned not because $12 million was up for grabs in a poker tournament but because poker was a sport. I love poker, which is an understatement if you know me, but if poker is a sport, than so is Monopoly.
The debate on what a sport really is has been raging for years. The definition of a sport, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is "a game, competition or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for enjoyment and/or as a job."
My friends have many different definitions as well, and we often argue about it.
One of my friends says if it doesn't use a ball, then it isn't a sport. Another says if you can't physically hurt your opponent, it isn't a sport. Another says that if it's on ESPN, then it's a sport. Yes, ESPN, the same network that has the Scrabble World Championship. Some of their definitions have putt putt, Halo and competitive eating as sports. Others have definitions that leave out hockey, golf and boxing. As you can see, the word "sports" can mean a lot of different things, depending upon whom you ask. Some sports are debated more than others, including auto racing, cheerleading and golf.
Auto racing also has been one of the biggest targets in the "sport or not" debate. Many say it's not a sport because it's boring. If that were true then soccer wouldn't be a sport either. Just messing around soccer fans…well, kind of.
Some say that if auto racing is a sport, then so is mowing the lawn because they both involve going around in a lot of circles. Others say that any event in which you can live or die on every turn has to be considered a sport.
Cheerleading is also often dismissed as not being a sport because of the participants and their stereotypes. Many cheerleaders are pigeonholed as ditzy, hyperactive blondes. Maybe this is because there have been five Bring It On movies (I wish I was making that up) with 90 percent of the characters fitting that stereotype.
Golf is often looked at in the debate. Golf enthusiasts argue it is one of the toughest sports to pick up and play, and that Tiger Woods is more athletic than most baseball players. On the other side, naysayers use an example from the 2007 U.S. Open. Golfer Angel Cabrera was in the lead late in the tournament, but the pressure was getting to him as his lead was shrinking. So Cabrera did what a lot of people do when they are under heavy pressure: smoke cigarettes.
After winning Cabrera said, "Well, there are some players that have psychologists, some have sportologists. I smoke."
This had many people asking if something could really be considered a sport if someone could smoke a pack of cigarettes while winning one of that sport's most prestigious events.
The thing is that it doesn't really matter whether something is a sport or not. At times I live and breathe sports, and I really couldn't tell you what the definition of a sport is or what it should be. The only thing I know for certain is that the debate over what is and isn't a sport is one that will probably never end.