What Makes a Sport?

Posted on February 19th, by Timm Matthews in All, Olympics. No Comments


Meryl Davis and Charlie White react after winning the gold medal in Ice Dancing.

When is a sport not really a sport? That’s a question that pops into my mind as I watch the Olympics night after night. One thing that doesn’t seem to be a sport to me is ice dancing. Now I realize that the U.S. just won the pairs ice dancing and while I congratulate Charlie White and Meryl Davis for winning the gold, it’s not a sport. First off, I have an issue with events who’s winners are determined by judges. I consider something a sport when teams or individuals face off against each other and the winner is determined by who beats the other. That’s why football, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, auto racing, tennis, golf and skiing are sports. There also has to be a physical element to the event. That’s why bridge, poker, spelling bee’s and debate aren’t sports. The problem is when some people who compete in these “non-sport” events want them included with the real sports. That’s why we see a push every few years for ballroom dancing and yodeling to be made into Olympic events. I’ll be honest, I also have a problem with a “sport” where the men wear something that they pulled out of their mother’s closet.

And every now and then these “sports” get in–that’s where we get ice dancing, and rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming. Let’s be honest, these sports get in because the powers-that-be want to get more female viewers and participants. Does any male actually watch ice dancing, or synchronized swimming…and admit it? No.

Sure, ice dancing is difficult but so is fixing a computer but it doesn’t make it a sport. If Dancing with the Stars wasn’t such a big hit on television, would most people care about ice dancing? Probably not. Now if you put four ice dancing teams on the ice at one time and they got to knock into one another, and the last one standing is the winner…now you’ve got something.

The International Olympic Committee actually took wrestling out of the Olympics, and softball, tennis and golf have either been eliminated or are being considered for extinction. But somehow ballroom dancing and bowling are being considered. Who’s in charge around here? I’m all for the evolution of the Games, the recent addition of the snowboarding events is tremendous, especially the snowboard cross–now that’s a sport. Five guys at a time going down a hill at full speed, first one to the finish line wins, awesome!

To keep the integrity of the Games, the people in charge have to make sure that the Olympics remain what they were originally about, athletic competition. Greek soldiers competing against one another, sometimes to the death, not a weekend activity that you can do with your Uncle Phil. Your Uncle Phil should never be considered an Olympic athlete, even if he can burp the Star Spangled Banner.

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