I have no talent for sports at all. I am essentially a sports talent black hole, in that if I stand next to an athlete, I will, just by being in proximity to them, rip their sporting talent out of their bodies and deposit said talent into the Hole of Sporting Talent Oblivion.
Let me give you an example of how pitiful I am at sports: I went out for the football team in grade school. I went to all the practices, did all the drills, and wound up sitting on the bench. I was put into a game once for one play and I screwed it up so badly I was promptly pulled from the game and benched for the rest of the season. My father was the coach…
You can imagine how much hubris I have to have to be able to say, here and now, that I have a theory about sports. It’s my “Sports Theory”, if you will, and it goes something like this: Some sports are most definitely sports, and some activities that people call sports are most certainly not sports.
Stay with me here.
I think actual sports involve two elements that are essential for being able to call an activity a sport. First, there has to be an inanimate object in play, like a ball, or a puck. A football is NOT a ball. I don’t know what it is…I think the closest I can come to a descriptive noun for it would be to call it a bladder taken from some poor, nuclear radiated monstrosity living in the woods around Chernobyl. Nevertheless, it is an inanimate object, and it is in play, meaning it is moving across the playing field throughout the course of the game.
Secondly, there has to be a goal that the inanimate object crosses over, or into, or under, to score points. This means that football is most certainly a sport. The bladder is in play and the goal is to get the bladder over the goal line to score points. On the other hand, gymnastics is NOT a sport, in that there is no inanimate object in play, and there is no goal for that object to cross for points. I would say that gymnastics is an activity. I would go so far as to say that gymnastics is an athletic activity, but it is not a sport.
Soccer is a sport. There is a ball in play, and the object of the game is to get the ball in the goal for points. On the other hand, ski jumping is not a sport. Nascar is a sport (the car, at rest, is inanimate and has to be driven over the finish line for points), while running hurdles is an athletic activity, not a sport. (Have I pissed anyone off yet? It’s not like I’m not trying…)
I don’t know what to think about Cricket. I don’t think people who play Cricket know what to think about Cricket. There IS a ball involved, but the games sometimes last for days, they stop to drink tea in the middle of the game, and some of the people are wearing what appears to be oven mitts. There appears to be no obvious goal or finish line, but I am willing to admit I am completely wrong about Cricket. Someone tried to explain the game of Cricket to me once, and I lost consciousness after five minutes and started seeing dead relatives.
By the way, I am not willing to go to the mat with any of the assertions I have made here (mat=wrestling: athletic activity, not a sport). You have to pick your battles, and I would rather argue the assertion that all politicians are lying if they have their mouths open and they all destroy more lives on a daily basis than the most prolific serial murders do in their lifetimes. THAT is something I will argue until I lose my voice.
Sports…I don’t really care. I don’t watch sports unless it is a really big game and I have a little bit of money riding on the outcome. Even then, I just drink and eat nibbles and make repeated comments about how sports that have cheerleaders on the sidelines should feature the cheerleaders in the television coverage a lot more than they do. Also, sports that don’t have cheerleaders should get cheerleaders. In fact, all activities involving men doing anything should involve cheerleaders. I want a cheerleader beside me as I write this, but my wife won’t put on the damned uniform because “It’s not my birthday”.
I do think that sports journalism amounts to people who can’t write writing about people who can’t speak and publishing their work for people who can’t read, but THAT is another rant for another day.