Next Up On ESPN2, Full Contact Go Fish and Extreme Juggling!
I’ll be talking today about Non-Competitive Sports.
As far as I am concerned, there are only three true sporting activities that exist on your planet: Baseball, Football, and Basketball. I could extend the parameters and include Hockey and Soccer, but they are essentially the same sport played with completely different equipment, but resulting in the same three hours of non-scoring tedium. Any sport that can conceivably end in a tie is not worth watching in the first place, and thus, not worth discussing. Then there are the peripheral sports like Tennis, Jai Alai, Volleyball, and other activities that share specific characteristics: In order to be properly classified a sport, the activity must contain both offensive and defensive elements, strategy, physical activity and a winner determined by objective scoring.
This is a rather simple definition that eludes spectators of the hundreds of other pastimes engaged in by half the world. Take Golf, for instance. Golf is a challenging and entertaining activity, at least according to rich, boring, white guys, but it’s not a sport. Why? There is no chance for a player to be defensive; there is only offense. Same goes for Bowling, Archery, Darts, Billiards and pretty much anything played at a bar after six pints of Guinness. Furthermore, certain activities exist which contain both an Offensive and Defensive element, but no physical activity – Poker, Chess, Dominoes – and are rightfully classified as “Games.” Rule of thumb, if you can play it over the internet, it’s not a sport.
Quick! Get these guys some Gatorade!
There are some activities that come pretty close to being a sport, in the sense that they are physically demanding, but miss the mark in every other category. Track is an example of this. While running 100 yards is arduous and physically demanding, it is not a sport. For one thing, there is no Defense, (other than running faster than your opponents), no strategy, (other than running faster than your opponents), and scoring is determined by time, rather than goals or points scored. Therefore, Track is not a sport, but an Exercise. Same goes for Swimming, Skiing, Auto Racing (also known as Making Left Turns For Five Hours), and other any other time-scored event.
The worst offenders can be found at the Olympic Games, the most unmistakable realization of irrational nationalism, corruption, substance abuse and flag-waving your planet has to offer. We know that the Olympics have nothing to do with sports because they offer hardly any sports in the first place. Want proof? Take Gymnastics.
Gymnastics is a brilliant display of physical conditioning, poise and concentration, but it is in no way a sport. For one thing, there is no direct competition. One athlete walks onto the mat, does some flips over what appears to be a leather bench, and then walks off. No one attempts to tackle him, tag him out, or cross check him into the parallel bars. There is no real-time strategy, as the gymnast merely goes out and performs the exact same routine that he has been practicing every morning for four years at 5 AM ad infinitum until he pukes on his Romanian trainer’s shoes. Worst of all, the athlete’s final score is determined in a completely arbitrary nature by a panel of judges, many of whom harbor generations-old, seething hatred towards the athlete’s home country. Physically demanding? Sure. But so is hauling garbage or moving pianos, and those aren’t sports either, and no one has to suck up to the French to be successful in those endeavors. Ice Skating, Diving, and Synchronized Swimming are additional examples of activities that have no place in modern sporting arenas.
Vegas had 2-1 odds that this guy couldn't pass a urine test if he studied for it
Then there are activities that used to be everyday procedures, but because of MTV, Mountain Dew, and savvy marketing campaigns, they have been falsely re-classified as “sports:”
Cycling: Cycling isn’t a sport, it’s a way to get from point A to point B. The fact that one guy can do it faster than another isn’t exactly spellbinding. Almost everyone in China rides a bicycle – are they all athletes?
Skateboarding / Rollerblading: That’s what you do when you can’t afford a bicycle.
Cheerleading: Cheerleading is not a sport, it’s young attractive women dancing in short skirts. There is no difference between Cheerleading and Exotic Dancing, other than the two-drink minimum. Cheerleaders exist to boost morales of the real athletes, and give them a place to massage their sweaty hands after the big game.
Add some German techno and a brass pole, and you've got yourself a sport
Hunting: Killing animals with a weapon and then eating them isn’t a sport, it’s what people did to survive before the invention of grocery stores. I'm not even going to start talking about Fishing.
Martial Arts: While Karate and the like are indicative of years of physical training, contain both Offensive and Defensive components, and are scored using a precise, objective scale, they aren’t sports because the original purpose of Martial Arts was to provide warriors a way to kill their opponents in the event they have been disarmed. If someone takes away my .45 during a bar fight, and I beat him to death with a barstool, my actions reflect an intent of self-preservation, not athletic competition. Same goes for Fencing, Javelin, Shotput, and Caber Tossing – they all have roots in military tactics, not athletics.
Outdoor Sports: Chopping down a tree or walking over a log spinning in the water is part of everyday life in West Virginia, hardly a sport. Should we also televise people who deliver mail, change sparkplugs or flip hamburgers?
I realize that there are plenty of people who spend countless hours training, practicing, and competing in events that lead to the acquisition of a trophy, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a complete waste of time. Just because you’re better at something than someone else, doesn’t make you an athlete. I can drink five scotch on the rocks in an hour without passing out, but I don’t expect to be on a box of Wheaties anytime soon.
And to you people who rush home from work to catch every possible competitive event aired on ESPN, do yourself a favor: Go grab a ball and a mitt, and play catch with a friend. You’d be doing the world a favor.