Constituting a sport, glorifying a hobby for self-assurance

TEMP ORARY November 14, 2012 0

Sports are kind of a big deal in America. Furthermore, they’re kind of a big deal around the world (or at least the parts that we care about). For a majority of my life, sports are what we used to gauge people’s worth: if we weren’t nervous about playing with your [insert sport] team, you didn’t deserve our respect; if you could compete, and if we could eventually beat you, you’d earn our respect; if you beat us, we’d hate you until next time, and then we’d reevaluate the situation. We didn’t care about how your school performed on aptitude tests, what awards your rendition of “Westside Story” won or that annual winter break service trip your alumni sponsored. None of that mattered because of sports.
It may be in poor taste to make this comparison, but sports are kind of like heroin, or any terribly addicting drug, really. You don’t just sorta kinda play a sport, you don’t participate in a game when it works best for you. No, sports will dominate every facet of your life once you get that first taste for them, whether you like it or not. Once you’re hooked, you’re hooked and no matter however brief your playing career is, the repercussions will stick with you for the rest of your life: you will follow a favorite team in your favorite sport with a degree of fanaticism that could make or break your psyche for an entire week depending on how they perform. Sometimes you’ll have more than one favorite team or sport. And sometimes, just for the sake of thoroughness, you’ll check up on how some of those other teams are doing. You could stop if you wanted to. Nope.
Now, a debate that surrounds sport-addicted cultures all over the place is who’s sport is the best, who’s sport is most real. Football players will dismiss soccer as a sissy’s game. Soccer players will insist that soccer has more legitimacy as a sport due to its international popularity. Hockey fans will sob quietly in the corner. We’re so hopelessly addicted to our drug-sport that we look to justify ourselves by saying, “This is it –– this is the one that really matters, man.” In order to really make that argument, you need to establish what a sport is.
So, what is a sport? The dictionary on my computer assures me that a sport is: “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Sounds fair, right? To most people, probably, yeah, whatever, just so long as they can go back to saying that theirs is the best. Their lifestyle based on the sport is totally worth it and legitimate. I, on the other hand, say that that definition is a bit too broad. Dance Dance Revolution is tiring, it takes skill, and if you’ve ever been to an arcade, you know you’re competing. It’s not a sport.
What about if we made the distinction between sports and athletic competitions? Let’s say that a sport is an activity involving physical exertion in which individuals on teams are involved, but there must also be a mode for both scoring points (offense) and denying the competition points (defense) with a clear distinction between the roles: a defender, defenseman and middle linebacker have roles diametrically opposed to their offensive counterparts. If there is no clear-cut difference between offensive and defensive players and positions, then let’s call the activity an athletic competition — don’t worry runners, even if track isn’t a sport by the definition, it’s still most certainly a sport. Some of the best athletes in the world don’t participate in sports, but they sure as hell compete (Mr. Michael Phelps).
That’s just my opinion, and there are plenty of dancers, swimmers, runners, throwers and many more who will disagree with that, and that’s okay, but I want them to know they’re athletes because that’s the major concern. We need to know that we’ve been athletes at one point or another. We need to know we’ve gained something from the insane amount of hours we’ve spent on a hobby we glorify. We need to feel like we’re awesome.

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