Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What Is Sport?

First a definition. What is Sport? Sport is a competition between two or more people or teams. Sport can be decided by honest competitors without the use of judges. For example, golf is a sport. Ballet dancing is not a sport. Ballet dancers are in much better physical condition than golfers, and I'd rather watch Ashley Bouder perform with the New York City Ballet than John Daly throwing his back out driving the ball. That still doesn't make ballet a sport.

Let's take a look now at the events in the Summer Olympics and we'll decide which are sports and which are not:

Archery - Sport. Who can put an arrow or five closest to the center of the target? Easy pick.

Track and Field - Sport. All Field events are sports. Who throws farther, jumps higher, or runs faster? another easy pick. All racing events, THAT ARE HUMAN POWERED, are sports. sorry NASCAR and Indy series, you're out of luck. Sailing? We'll get to you in a minute.

Badminton - Sport. But you do that at your summer picnics? How could it be a sport? Simple, two sides competing in an event that is decided by points and is not judged for style or performance.

Basketball - Sport. Two teams. Two baskets. One Ball.

Boxing - Mixed. Tricky one here. Boxing is a sport if the result comes by way of Knockout, one participant quits or his corner throws in the towel. Otherwise...NOT a sport. If a boxing result is decided by judges scorecards it's no better than a beauty pageant.

Canoeing/Kayaking - Sport. Who can paddle fastest.

Cycling Road Racing and Mountain Biking - Sport. Road racing and Mountain biking are both sports. You get on the bike and pedal faster than the other competitors.

Cycling BMX - Not a Sport. BMX is not a sport. It's fun to watch, but you win by getting the most points from the judges. Thus, not a sport.

Diving - Not a Sport. No ifs ands or buts. It's judged. Not a sport.

Equestrian Dressage - Not a Sport. Fun to watch, but while it is a timed event, it is also judged.

Equestrian Jumping - Sport. Horses are taken through a course with a series of jumps set up and finishing places are determined by a combination of fastest time and fewest faults on the course.

Equestrian Eventing - Not a Sport. This event combines Jumping (Sport), Cross Country (Sport), and Dressage (Not a Sport).

Fencing - Sport. This event is scored using sensors worn on the body to determine 'touches'.

Football (We Yanks, correctly, call this Soccer) - Sport. As much as it grieves me to say. Not my sport, but sport nonetheless.

Gymnastics - Not a Sport. If you need further explanation of this I'm happy to oblige. If you count gymnastics as a sport then I challenge you to deny American idol a spot at the opening ceremonies. At least the American idol judges are entertaining. If the North Korean judge can cost you a medal with his low score you are not competing in a sport.

Handball - Sport. Just two teams, a ball, and two goals. Sound familiar?

Field Hockey - Sport. Again with the two teams, a ball and two goals bit.

JudoMixed . Usually a sport. Most of the time. Another tough call because it is judged. How about bouts ending with submission are sport, and bouts that go to the judges scorecards are not sport?

Modern Pentathlon - Sport. Running, swimming, shooting, fencing, and ride a horse? For sure this is sport.

Rowing - Sport. Humans using their bodies to propel a machine across the water? Winner has the fastest time? Sport.

Sailing - Not a Sport. Counter Intuitive? I know. I'll explain. The event is between two or more people or teams? Check. It can be decided between honest competitors without going to the judges scorecards? Check. It is human powered? Not on your life! So? Not a sport.

Shooting - Sport. See Archery.

Swimming - Sport. See Track and Field.

Synchronized Swimming - Not a Sport. The event is judged. If you include this you might as well include the NBA slam dunk competition as an Olympic event.

Table Tennis - Sport. Just like tennis, on a table. Call your own lines guys.

TaekwondoMixed. See Boxing and Judo.

Tennis - Sport. See Table Tennis.

Volleyball - Sport. In the words of George Carlin "Racket less team ping-pong played with an inflated ball and a raised net while standing on the table." Or in the case of beach volleyball, the sand box.

Water Polo - Sport. See Hand Ball.

Weightlifting - Sport. Lift more than your competitor? Check. Sport.

WrestlingMixed. See Taekwondo, Judo, and Boxing.

So that's it. A total of 32 events in the Summer Olympics. 19 sports, 7 non-sports, and 4 mixed events. The London 2012 Olympics run from July 27, 2012 to August 12, 2012.


  1. Are fooseball and air hockey sports? Two teams/sides, two goals, one ball. SPORT!

    1. Oh! And you forgot competitive eating!

  2. You are correct. Fooseball, Air Hockey, Baseball, Rugby, Cricket, and yes, even Competitive Eating are all Sports. Rugby will be a trial Olympic event this year, and a formal event in 2016. A Gold Medal for Competitive Eating would be awesome.