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Student asks: What are sports?

crest-only-278x2781By Leanndra Padgett
Copy Editor

What constitutes a sport? Do cheerleading or wife carrying fit into this category? People often argue that their favorite activities are indeed sports, but where is the line drawn? Even watching the Olympics brings up this question. Are figure skating and curling sports or just competitions? What about chess, ballet or NASCAR racing?

According to dictionary.com, a sport is “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature.” If this definition is to be trusted, then cheerleading, gymnastics and dance competitions are sports, as are competitive fishing and hunting. A performance based activity, such as a noncompetitive ballet or juggling show would not be sports, however.

Chess, poker and arguably billiards are all games, or ”competitive activit[ies] involving skill, chance or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators” (dictionary.com).

Sports encompass races or “contest[s] of speed, as in running, riding, driving, or sailing” (dictionary.com). NASCAR is debatable, however. If one is willing to concede that it requires physical prowess, then it is indeed a sport. Horse racing and dogsled racing are sports as well.

Even a hot dog eating contest is a sport when you consider that professionals train their bodies for the events. They are athletic (“involving the use of physical skills or capabilities, as strength, agility, or stamina”), skilled and competitive (dictionary.com). Obviously, sport is a broad category with a place for many to get involved. So, inquire further when you hear that someone “plays sports.”