Sports are an incredibly important contributor to human nature in our pussified society. The lack of responsibility and risk taking swells to the point where people avoid any kind of competitive activity because of the inherent risk of failure. Participating in sport at any level will replace the necessary competitive edge in an individual and kindle the fire of dedication, hard work, and almost reckless intensity; the stuff of 70′s Big.
But what is a sport? We have the Shrug Thug to inform us about the activities that aren’t a sport (geared lifting, calculus, or fixing a pair of glasses), but what qualifies something to sport status? I always consider sport to encompass the following:
- Individuals or groups participating in a sanctioned competition that has a standard set of rules for achieving victory.
- The competitors (who are human) exhibit physicality
The highlight of the first portion of the definition is “sanction”. Regarding the competitive events, this implies that the type of event, how it is officiated, and how victory can be attained are all inherently known before hand. American football has a rigid set of rules and is played indoors our outdoors, yet it’s known where the game will be played and to what standards the players must perform. Strongman competitions are sanctioned events in that the federation indicates that each competition will have a given number of categories and the types of events that are permitted in each category. The “meet director” in this case will choose the required events from this list and lists them on the registration form. Not only are there x amount of events in y amount of categories, but they are known when the athlete signs up for the event. This is in contrast to CrossFit which is self described as “random”. This doesn’t aim to bash CrossFit, but it’s intentional lack of congruity removes it from the discussion of qualifying as a sport, given the above definition. (I’ve also heard adamant CFers try and make the point that it isn’t any different than strongman competitions, and if strongman is a sport, then CF must be to. Again, since strongman has a rigid method of creating competitions from a pool of listed events (types of pressing, types of deadlifing, types of carrying, etc.), then it is most definitely sanctioned — and thus a sport — while the random CF competition is not.)
Having a standard for achieving victory is obviously important. Victory in sport is inherently not subjective. Basketball, American football, hockey, and baseball all have a point system. When the game ends and your team has more points, you win. Gymnastics and diving are a bit different, yet those judges have a defined set of criteria that they look for in a performance — the fact that we have never cared to look to see what that criteria is doesn’t mean they are judging randomly. This would indicate that cheerleading competitions qualify as a sport while the sideline rah-rah obviously does not.
The second part of the definition is debatable. I think it’s fair to refer specifically to human competitors when discussing sport; I always get pissed when horse racing, chess, or poker is on ESPN (although they do it because it makes them money). Human competitors would also imply that NASCAR, while beloved among plenty of Americans, is not a sport (motor sport is more fitting anyway). However, requiring that “physicality” is necessary for sport status becomes a quantification problem. The term physicality (or the requirement of physical exertion in the competition) is too vague and hard to quantify; I deem this the hole in the definition. Changing this definition would merely serve the definer to eliminate or accept activities that he considers a sport, and that’s not how definitions are made. Nevertheless, I consider it an important distinction; if there was some sort of physicality quantification, then things like golf, darts, or catfish noodling would be reduced to a game or hobby.
Quantification requires a measurement so that there is an objective distinction in what you intend to say. “Physicality” must be measurable, and the only way I can think to do that is with caloric expenditure relative to the size of an athlete (perhaps a percentage of the basal metabolic rate). If it isn’t done internally, then it must be done with rate of movement. Nevertheless it isn’t something we can implement, but will instead have to debate.
By competing in a sport, as defined above, the competitor is deemed an athlete. People who do not compete in sport are not an athlete, and instead should be considered a trainee (assuming they train). This doesn’t mean that the trainee isn’t athletic, yet athlete is quantified as a sport competitor. This also doesn’t imply that athletes themselves are athletic; there are certain bowlers, golfers, or even some baseball players who aren’t exactly athletic (calling golf and bowling a sport is debatable — see “physicality” quantification above). If someone has played sports previously in their life, are they still considered an athlete? I’m not the one to make that distinction, but if it were up to me I’d say “no” unless they were paid to compete in a sport and still train. In any case, “athlete” is a distinction for a sport competitor. This would eliminate catfish noodlers and CrossFitters alike from “athlete” status. This doesn’t mean they aren’t athletic, yet given the quantifiable definition above, it makes the distinction black and white.
Feel free to debate this topic in the comments. If you’re going to improve my definition or change my mind, you’ll have to provide a dose of logic as I’ve tried to do here. Debating what is or isn’t a sport may be fun, but 70′s Big is primarily interested in getting you to funnel your training into sport whether it be powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, rugby, or bat fighting. Besides, you’re just a trainee until you do.