Monday, November 21, 2005

Definition of Sport

i got into a discussion with someone over the weekend about whether baseball is a "sport" or not. well, i don't think baseball is a sport, but not in the negative way that most people who make that statement intend and certainly with no intention to denigrate it. baseball simply doesn't fit into my personal definition of sport.

people call all manner of things sport, and technically according to the dictionary definition, they are correct. if something involves physical activity and/or competition it can technically be called a sport. people make the statement "baseball is not a sport" and if you ask why the response is always something like "it doesn't have enough running" or "look how out of shape [insert fat player's name here] is." that seemed too arbitrary to me, so about 15 years ago, i came up with my own definitions and categories for things that are considered "sports."

my definitions:

sports - interactive athletic competitions that are dynamic in nature. one participant may actively prevent the other participant from achieving their desired goal. football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, boxing, and soccer. each of these interactive engagements have a dynamic nature where a participant can actively and physically prevent their opponent from their goal (micro or macro).

games - interactive athletic competitions that are turn based in nature. one participant makes their best move then waits to see how the competitor responds. baseball, tennis, ping pong, badminton, racketball, squash, and cricket. all of those are primarily turn based activities where a partcipant makes their best move then waits for the opponent to reply. e.g. a pitcher makes a pitch and waits to see if the hitter hits it, the hitter hits the ball then essentially waits to see if a fielder catches it. while it is true that the hitter can run while the fielder is trying to catch the ball, it doesn't impact the fielder's ability to catch the ball. there are a few dynamic aspects to baseball -- runner trying to avoid a tag or runner trying to knock the ball out of the catcher's mitt -- but at its core baseball is turn-based. a good pitcher gets more hitters out because he makes a better pitch when it his turn, not because he can dynamically affect the ball after he let's it go.

athletic feats - individual or competitive feats of athletic ability that are not interactive. these are based on pushing the limits of human ability in a specific activity or movement -- e.g. track and field, swimming, biking, cross-country skiing, and weightlifting. none of these are intended to be interactive competitions. it wouldn't matter whether the competitors were taking their turn at the same time or in series.

displays of skill - competitions that are not interactive and usually involve some contrived goal. golf, gymnastics, ice skating, diving, curling, bobsled, and alpine skiing.

don't mean to offend anyone if your "sport" didn't make it into my definition of the word sport. as always, feel free to comment and/or disagree.

btw - i don't think the olympics should include anything i've classified as a game or a sport. imo the olympics should consist primarily of athletic feats with some displays of skill interspersed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah what Pete said. In fact he said it better than anyone I've ever heard try.

I'm not 100% in agreement about the Olympic issue though. I still think sports should be a part of it, just not games. I think judo and wrestling go back to the original spirit of the Olympics and so I think they should stay. Oddly enough, I never thought hockey should be there though.

- Joe

9:10 AM EST  
Blogger The Mean Guy said...

actually, i'm ok with wrestling and judo being in the olympics. thinking about it more, if there is a professional league for the sport then i'm probably opposed to it being in the olympics. if there isn't a professional league for the sport, then i am probably inclined to including it in the olympics.

no, i don't count vince mcmahon's organization, entertaining as it may be, as a professional wrestling league.

9:49 AM EST  

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