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Author Topic: What is a sport?  (Read 330 times)

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Offline beginner skater

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What is a sport?
« on: March 07, 2017, 06:12:59 AM »
Another thread has prompted me to do a quick google for the definition of sport.
Definitions seem to vary as to how much a competitive element is required.
According to wikipedia : There are opposing views on the necessity of competition as a defining element of a sport, with almost all professional sport involving competition, and governing bodies requiring competition as a prerequisite of recognition by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) or SportAccord.[1]

Other bodies advocate widening the definition of sport to include all physical activity. For instance, the Council of Europe include all forms of physical exercise, including those competed just for fun.

The precise definition of what separates a sport from other leisure activities varies between sources. The closest to an international agreement on a definition is provided by SportAccord, which is the association for all the largest international sports federations (including association football, athletics, cycling, tennis, equestrian sports, and more), and is therefore the de facto representative of international sport.

SportAccord uses the following criteria, determining that a sport should:[1]

have an element of competition
be in no way harmful to any living creature
not rely on equipment provided by a single supplier (excluding proprietary games such as arena football)
not rely on any "luck" element specifically designed into the sport.
They also recognise that sport can be primarily physical (such as rugby or athletics), primarily mind (such as chess or go), predominantly motorised (such as Formula 1 or powerboating), primarily co-ordination (such as billiard sports), or primarily animal-supported (such as equestrian sport).[1]

The inclusion of mind sports within sport definitions has not been universally accepted, leading to legal challenges from governing bodies in regards to being denied funding available to sports.[12] Whilst SportAccord recognises a small number of mind sports, it is not open to admitting any further mind sports.

There has been an increase in the application of the term "sport" to a wider set of non-physical challenges such as video games, also called esports, especially due to the large scale of participation and organised competition, but these are not widely recognised by mainstream sports organisations. According to Council of Europe, European Sports Charter, article 2.i, " "Sport" means all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim at expressing or improving physical fitness and mental well-being, forming social relationships or obtaining results in competition at all levels."

Personally I love a bit of thread drift, you can learn such a lot. Who knew that chess was a sport?

Offline tstop4me

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Re: What is a sport?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2017, 07:44:45 AM »
The Oxford English Dictionary gives a good explanation of the evolution of the word "sport":

 a. Diversion, entertainment, fun. Freq. with modifying adjective (as good, great, etc.). Now somewhat arch.

a. An activity providing diversion, entertainment, or fun; a pastime.

a. An activity involving physical exertion and skill, esp. (particularly in modern use) one regulated by set rules or customs in which an individual or team competes against another or others. Freq. in pl.

In early use the sense of ‘sport’ as a diversion or amusement is paramount; by the 18th and 19th centuries the term was often used with reference to hunting, shooting, and fishing (see blood, field sports at the first element). The consolidation of organized sport (particularly football, rugby, cricket, and athletics) in the 19th cent. reinforced the notion of sport as physical competition (for contact, motor-, racket, spectator, team, water sport, etc., see the first element).


Yes, it's surprising that some consider chess a sport.  I believe it usually is categorized as a "game" (which includes mental as well as physical categories); however, it is in keeping with the original meaning of "sport".

By the way, since SportAccord stipulates that sport

be in no way harmful to any living creature,

I guess that governing body rules out hunting and fishing as sports.

Offline dlbritton

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Re: What is a sport?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2017, 02:13:56 PM »
And close to home, I remember hearing "Is it a sport if there is music and the music matters?" referring to figure skating.
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Offline Query

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Re: What is a sport?
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2017, 03:31:06 PM »
And then there is the ballerina who told me that ballet (and I suppose by extension all professional dance - one of the most competitive athletic fields one can imagine) - is an "art", not a sport - which could perhaps also be claimed for figure skating.

(BTW, since that time, at many U.S. colleges and universities, competitive dance has become recognized as an official varsity sport - and so has figure skating. Now that I think of it, competitive dance and music go WAY back in time.)

We still occasionally hear your first definition - to "make sport" of someone.

I tend to think of hockey as more lethal combat than sport. But In the days of mounted knights and chivalry, war was often considered a sport. And the original Greek olympics were often lethal, in the chariot races. Many (most?) of the original Olympic participants were professional soldiers, and most of the original Olympic sports, I think, were direct extensions of combat activities.

Is web surfing a sport? Competitive texting?