## What Defines a Sport?

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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

there is a totally unfair bias toward cycling and swimming at the olympics. if you're good at either, then you can clean up! as a lot of competitors have done recently, im thinking the thorpedo and chris hoy

The number of possible medals in swimming does rather mean that the most successful (in terms of gongs) atheletes will always be in the pool.

One runner IIRC got a bit annoyed at the extreme attention of Michael Phelps in China (Whos achievments i personally think were immense) by saying he could have won 8 golds if he had been allowed to compete in the 100m and the 100m with his left arm behind his back,the 100m with the right arm behind his back and all the other variations on how you could run the same distance.
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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

I agree that it's a tricky question, & I'm not sure there is a definitive answer. My personal definitions work as follows:

A pastime or leisure pursuit is anything you do for enjoyment;
A game is a pastime that involves rules and competition;
A sport is a game that has an organisation to enforce the rules and/or record the results.

So, if you use a racquet to bang a ball against a wall, you are taking part in a pastime;
If you do this under a mutually agreed version of the rules of squash, you are taking part in a game;
If your game is part of a league (a "squash ladder"), you are taking part in sport.

If you are riding a bike, it is a pastime;
If you race your pal to the next lamppost, you're taking part in a game;
If you take part in an organised race, it's sport.

I'm certainly not claiming these as definitive but they are what I use to differentiate.
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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

Jumbo wrote:

One runner IIRC got a bit annoyed at the extreme attention of Michael Phelps in China (Whos achievments i personally think were immense) by saying he could have won 8 golds if he had been allowed to compete in the 100m and the 100m with his left arm behind his back,the 100m with the right arm behind his back and all the other variations on how you could run the same distance.

exACTly

on another point, do you know, or have you ever met ANYONE who has a) had a go at pole vault or b) been anywhere remotely neara pole vault?

i could be the best pole vaulter the world has ever known but ill never know because i have never gotten anywhere remotely near ever being able to have a go!
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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

rJD wrote:

A pastime or leisure pursuit is anything you do for enjoyment;
A game is a pastime that involves rules and competition;
A sport is a game that has an organisation to enforce the rules and/or record the results.

yeah, they are nice definitions. that does of course (and maybe rightly so) make darts et al sports.

on the seprate issue of the olympics (that i brought in) how do they decide which 'new sports' to bring into the games?

the london 2012 olympics should include cricket in my mind. it was in the olympics years ago
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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

on another point, do you know, or have you ever met ANYONE who has a) had a go at pole vault or b) been anywhere remotely neara pole vault?

That is something i have wondered myself. How do you get started in that event? I know at school we had high jump equipment but no pole vault stuff. Are there beginners shorter poles or is it a try it with a full size one and should you survive then you might be quite good at it?

Most other events you can see some development from some other activity but i can't see any other walk of life in which the ability to fling yourself skywards on the end of a bendy stick would be all that advantageous!

i could be the best pole vaulter the world has ever known but ill never know because i have never gotten anywhere remotely near ever being able to have a go!

On a similar note i think it was Ron Dennis who once said that there was a good chance that the greatest F1 driver in the world may be a guy in the middle of nowhere who will live his whole life never setting eyes on an F1 car.
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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

double post.
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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

Jumbo wrote:

On a similar note i think it was Ron Dennis who once said that there was a good chance that the greatest F1 driver in the world may be a guy in the middle of nowhere who will live his whole life never setting eyes on an F1 car.

yeah, i think most people have had a go at running, at football, and at quite a long list of events, so it is fairly safe to say the best individuals at these events are the best in the world. Take Bolt, i think its probably fair to assume he is the fastest runner in the world. there could, of course, be some little fella in the jungle undiscovered by the civilised world who can run like the proverbial clappers but as you right said, well never know.

in fact i havent had a go at quite a few of the sports at the olympics. i am just going to assume id be gold medalist at at least one of them yeah?
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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

Im assuming anything that involves physical activity. Running, jumping, swimming, etc.

Yeah...i guess even taking a dump is a sport.

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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

rJD wrote:A pastime or leisure pursuit is anything you do for enjoyment;
A game is a pastime that involves rules and competition;
A sport is a game that has an organisation to enforce the rules and/or record the results.

I think this is the right approach, though I would define both game and sport a bit differently. I would drop competition from the definition of a game, noting that there are collaborative games as well as single player games. The key feature of a game is that it has rules.

A sport is not neccessarily a game, though there is a large overlap and I would define it as a pasttime that includes the attempt to stretch your personal boundaries. If these are physical boundaries (lift more weight; run faster, longer; climb a higher mountain) or mental boundaries (beat a better chess player) doesn´t matter. What matters is that you try to improve.

It´s worth also defining art here as a pasttime that includes the attempt to express something using a succession of decisions, because a sport as defined above does include playing musical instruments for instance (if the goal is to play faster than before, etc. i.e. notions of virtuosity would be included as sport). If the goal is to dance a choreography with more precision or faster, then ballet is a sport. If the goal is to express something with the technique you have it´s an art. Possibly there are states where an activity is both (watch Rodney Mullen on his Skateboard for an example).
susu
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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

susu, I like your version - it helps to give sensible definition to where sport, game and art can overlap.
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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

A sport should measure manual dexterity and/or physical ability in some way. If something doesn't do this, then it's a game, but it's not a sport in my book. Chess is not a sport. Bodybuilding is not a sport (a lot of physical ability to get to that stage, but none during the actual competition itself). Darts or archery are sports because the manual dexterity is clearly the defining factor.

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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

Jumbo wrote:
on another point, do you know, or have you ever met ANYONE who has a) had a go at pole vault or b) been anywhere remotely neara pole vault?

That is something i have wondered myself. How do you get started in that event? I know at school we had high jump equipment but no pole vault stuff. Are there beginners shorter poles or is it a try it with a full size one and should you survive then you might be quite good at it?

I think the general pattern with these sorts of sports is to offer people who aren't quite good enough at other sports the chance to try. That's how Amy Williams got into skeleton bob. She used to run the 400m, but she didn't quite make it.

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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

I'm With Stupid wrote:A sport should measure manual dexterity and/or physical ability in some way. If something doesn't do this, then it's a game, but it's not a sport in my book. Chess is not a sport.

Hmmm... not sure about this. To me, sport is primarily about the competition, on which grounds chess would certainly qualify. Perhaps we'd want another definition, between physical skill and competition, but then we risk getting overcomplicated.
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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

rJD wrote:I agree that it's a tricky question, & I'm not sure there is a definitive answer. My personal definitions work as follows:

A pastime or leisure pursuit is anything you do for enjoyment;
A game is a pastime that involves rules and competition;
A sport is a game that has an organisation to enforce the rules and/or record the results.

So if some people meet to play football (ie soccer) in the park, the game/sport difference largely hinges on the precise way in which people other than the players respond to the existence of the game?
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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

rJD wrote:
I'm With Stupid wrote:A sport should measure manual dexterity and/or physical ability in some way. If something doesn't do this, then it's a game, but it's not a sport in my book. Chess is not a sport.

Hmmm... not sure about this. To me, sport is primarily about the competition, on which grounds chess would certainly qualify. Perhaps we'd want another definition, between physical skill and competition, but then we risk getting overcomplicated.

Why should competition be a defining factor? Surely that makes any board game a sport? Monopoly? Kerplunk? Sorry, but I think a bunch of kids having a kick-about on the street can be described as playing sport for more than the most prestigious competition in chess. The key word for me is physical. If it's not physical, it's not a sport as far as I'm concerned.

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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

tolman wrote:
rJD wrote:I agree that it's a tricky question, & I'm not sure there is a definitive answer. My personal definitions work as follows:

A pastime or leisure pursuit is anything you do for enjoyment;
A game is a pastime that involves rules and competition;
A sport is a game that has an organisation to enforce the rules and/or record the results.

So if some people meet to play football (ie soccer) in the park, the game/sport difference largely hinges on the precise way in which people other than the players respond to the existence of the game?

Sort of, though the attitude of the participants matters too; it's a matter of the context of the activity - if someone plays a one-off match but the result doesn't have any significance beyond who won that single match, it's a game but, if it's recorded on a league table or similar, or if it's a recurring trophy or regular "varsity" competition, then I think it's a sport. Although, now, I'm moving more towards susu's version anyway.

I'm with Stupid, I can appreciate your point of view - my oldest friend has said the same - but it's just not one I share. If a game has objective measures to identify who's won and people take it seriously enough to form leagues then, to me, it's a sport.
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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

I has to be .. systematic competition or organized. It needs to have events, significance to events - medals etc, and it requires preparation beyond normal game play. Second post. One can play Monopoly competitively, at such level, when it becomes sport not just a game no more. What sport is and whatnot cannot be bound to traditional understanding but to factual outcomes.

Olympic games got the problem they are Olympic. If a potential Olympic game seems to be ridiculous it only tells our understanding of either context or purpose of Olympic games legacy or both.
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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

rJD wrote:I'm with Stupid, I can appreciate your point of view - my oldest friend has said the same - but it's just not one I share. If a game has objective measures to identify who's won and people take it seriously enough to form leagues then, to me, it's a sport.

So vegetable growing is a sport? A lot of people take it seriously, and hold competitions. Crufts? Beauty contests? Photography competitions? Does is matter whether they do the activity during the competition or beforehand?

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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

I'm With Stupid wrote:
rJD wrote:I'm with Stupid, I can appreciate your point of view - my oldest friend has said the same - but it's just not one I share. If a game has objective measures to identify who's won and people take it seriously enough to form leagues then, to me, it's a sport.

So vegetable growing is a sport? A lot of people take it seriously, and hold competitions. Crufts? Beauty contests? Photography competitions? Does is matter whether they do the activity during the competition or beforehand?

I've already said that I've moved towards susu's definition:

susu wrote:A sport is not neccessarily a game, though there is a large overlap and I would define it as a pasttime that includes the attempt to stretch your personal boundaries. If these are physical boundaries (lift more weight; run faster, longer; climb a higher mountain) or mental boundaries (beat a better chess player) doesn´t matter. What matters is that you try to improve.

Under very stretched definitions, you could call all sorts of things a sport under susu's usage but none of the things you've listed would realistically be described as "stretching personal boundaries".
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### Re: What Defines a Sport?

There seems to be some confusion about competition vs cooperation. We can do it the other way around and ask what kind of sport is not competitive?

If the goal is to dance a choreography with more precision or faster, then ballet is a sport. - susu.exp

No, the goal is to try to dance like that and give it context, compare results, hence competition. If we take out competition completely we are left with rules or physical activity which is not enough. So jogging is not sport? No it is not competitive sport and no it is not contraction as jogging is training in the first place, training to be able to be, essentially, competitive.
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