A sport, to me, is something that requires physical prowess of some kind, and is full of competition between opponents. It’s not something that is judged – sorry, figure skating – but rather something in which the winner is most of the time decided in a clear cut and fair fashion. See Superbowl XL where the Steelers took on the Seahawks for an example of an exception.
However, if you turn on the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network or Fox Sports Northwest, you see the programming schedules are filled with things that I don’t quite feel are sports.
For example, the other day, I tuned in to FSN, and they were having the celebrity poker tournament. So, deciding to pass on that, I go up a channel to ESPN, where they’re showing a replay of the 2005 World Series of Poker. I have to tell you, nothing gets my blood pumping like watching a game of cards. Especially games of cards played four years ago.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love playing poker – almost as much as my opponents usually love playing against me–but there’s just something wrong about this. As someone who played basketball for ten years, baseball for seven years, soccer for one year, and football for one day (don’t ask), I can’t help but feel a little resentment towards the fact that they are implying these people are athletes.
Then there’s NASCAR. There’s direct competition with a clear cut winner. However, as far as physical prowess goes, there’s something left to be desired from a “game” in which you sit in a car for hours, making nothing but left turns. I’m not saying that someone like me could do it, or that it’s easy, but neither is giving a prostate exam and I don’t see doctors running around calling themselves athletes. I also don’t see it on Sports Center’s top 10 plays of the day, and I hope it stays that way.
The trickiest game to consider is golf. I was wandering whether or not I should put it in here, then I thought about John Daly. He’s a professional golfer since 1987, whose achievements include winning the PGA Championship in 1991; and I thought, if there’s any man that personifies my point, it’s him. If smoking a cigarette and having a glass of scotch was allowable during play, he’d do it.
This isn’t to say golf doesn’t require tremendous skill, as I’m sure BC’s golf team could beat me if I started five feet from each hole and they went the entire way.
Of course, there are other games that don’t get a mention here, like bowling and archery for example. I just think that we need to step back and come up with a new term for these things. How about founding the Entertainment and Competitive Hobbies Programming Network?
I just feel that by referring to all of these activities as sports, we cheapen and devalue what it means to have the ability to become a true professional athlete.