What is a 'Sport'?

After the AU Ball this week, a debate started in our comments section – what is a sport? It feels like one of those dull questions you might get set to write an […]

After the AU Ball this week, a debate started in our comments section – what is a sport? It feels like one of those dull questions you might get set to write an essay on. Start off with a couple of definitions, maybe a couple of articles and bish bash bosh there’s your answer. It doesn’t take much imagination to start listing off some of the slightly obvious answers such as Football and Rugby, though these are the types of answers that would score you the maximum 100 on Pointless. So with the obvious answers aside I suppose it would be prudent to consider the dictionary definition

Sportnoun: An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others.

It can't be that exciting surely?

Unfortunately under this strict definition you have absurdities that are somehow classed as sports and yet appear to have nothing in common with those stereotypes we’ve already considered. Cheese rolling and Toe Wrestling are among what I imagine is a never ending list which is only comparable to the book of Guinness World Records. Clearly the motto is if you’re no good at anything make something new up and you can be the best. I think when considering sports such as Cricket and Cycling it is clear that the definition is more than just exerting yourself and having some form of skill; it’s the entertainment factor. People are driven in their thousands to watch these sports because they’re interesting, it’s something the audience can relate to. However this being said ‘sports’ such as Snooker and Cheerleading exist and yet fail to appear in the Olympics, so is the Olympic definition of a sport a bit more precise?

All the events that are sanctioned by one International Sport Federation

The beauty of the Olympics is you turn on the TV and suddenly you are bombarded with sports which you knew existed, but never really cared about before. Sports such as Fencing or any form of Swimming. There’s no doubt in my mind that Swimming is a sport but being brutally honest, unless it’s the Olympic final it’s not very exciting to watch. Similarly anything to do with horses, unless it’s the Grand National and I’ve got a betting slip in my hand I’m afraid yet again it is still a tad boring.

Future Olympic Champions? I don't think so...

It is clear to see that whilst the Olympic definition is basically a way of saying ‘we make the rules’, the element of excitement is key. I personally can’t think of anything more boring than watching any form of dance unless it’s break-dancing. Similarly if you’re going to throw in some pom poms it’s just simply not exciting enough however it is clear that other sports have learnt from this. Beach Volleyball is an exciting sport full of skill and athleticism unlike the aforementioned sports.

One element I may have not given enough emphasis until now is the physical aspect. Considering sports like Snooker and Darts, you don’t exactly have to be very fit. I think so far as Darts is concerned you just have to be able to lift a pint to your mouth. However when considering other sports such as Running, Rowing and Boxing it is clear in some cases there is a very clear case for the survival of the fittest.

The dream: Doing the halftime show at the London Olympics?

I think it is fair to say some sports are awesome because they are enjoyable to watch for the skill, others for just how exciting it is to watch the athletes push themselves to the limits and in some cases both of these. However sadly some sports (including a fair few in the University’s ‘athletic union’) just seem to have missed the point.