Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sports vs. Skills

After a conversation with Jacki at the milblogger's convention, I knew I wanted to write about this.

In the US, and especially the olympics, and even in some other countries, we have this inclination to call games and skills played by individuals and sometimes teams, a "sport."

I'll get on to the definitions in a minute, but identifying a sport vs. a skill isn't the same as defining pornography with the "when I see it, I know it" methodology.

A sport, in chucks definition, MUST have the inherent risk of violence, not accidental violence (i.e. rock climbing--if you screw up, you go splat). That is the key to identification and classification as a sport. Someone or something is trying to kill you. Footbal: sport. a 300+ pound nose tackle trying to tear off your head is a sport. If you are successful, you get past him to your target. If not, meet Joe Theissman. Fishing--only large gamefish and sharks, because if you go in the drink, you stand a very good chance of becoming dinner. Same goes for hunting. The chances of getting gored by a deer are small, but a predator animal (e.g. bear, tiger, mountain lion, or even a not predator with a nasty temper when riled, like an elephant, etc) may just turn you into their next warm meal/stuff betwix their toes.

Boxing is the epitome of true sport, as is ancient greco-roman wrestling. At the ancient greek olympiad, wrestlers were paired off, and wrestled with a pugili-a club of sorts, or grappled with bare hands-until one of them was dead. The winner took on the next challenger, etc, until there was only one wrestler remaining. Now there's an inherent risk of death.

NASCAR, or as I like to call it, driving and making left turns, is NOT a sport. Driving is a skill. Driving fast is a skill, and is learned. I realize it is hot in the cars, and there are other cars rubbing and bumping and generally being nasty and trying to make you lose control, but the rules do not allow them to do so on purpose--therefore all of the risk however intentional, is accidental. Now, if 1/2 the cars drove in the opposite direction, and all forms of collision were allowed, that'd meet the inherent risk of death definition.

Skiing--skill. Skulling--skill. Luge or tobagan or any of the winter sports involving grown men sledding--skill. There is a risk of death, granted, but only if you screw up and newtonian physics kills you. Curling--aside from being a really idiotic game--is a skill. JaiLai--sport. Horse racing, skill. Baseball--until the pitcher is allowed to throw the ball AT the batter, and the batter gets to keep his bat and use it while running--skill/game.

Most of our sports are now skills, or games, or have had so much safety equipment or rules incorporated that the risk of intentional violence or even death is minimized, and that is a function of our non-barbaric society. I'm not saying that it's a bad thing, but I hate the obfuscation of the word by those who dinimish its meaning.

Fencing--until they take off the sieves from their faces and the corks off the swords--is a skill. Karate, and any of the full-contact martial arts, are sports.

Calling golf, tennis, badmitton, any form of swimming or running, chess, tiddlywinks, soccer, cycling, basketball, hell any non-contact game with no inherent risk of death a game--is just wrong. It doesn't pass the litmus test.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi wrestling and boxing require practice, conditioning and skills. I'm sorry but you're totally wrong. I'm a lifelong into athletics. I would say driving a car is a sport. Have you ever driven a car cross country? It hurts like hell. Imagine driving 180 miles around a race track. Your glove (hand), tennis racket, basically your weapon of choice is the mind and car and you are using many muscles in your body. The body us under extreme duress during these races. I've driven long distances and have torn a tendon. And I was going far less fast than a race car driver. I've always been non-competitive (against myself only) endurance oriented pursuits which is why I like these long distance trips. Anyway trust me, there's skills involved but when your in a car like that its nit as easy as it looks. On top of that, race car driving is a team sport. So basically what I find interesting is that the mechanics minds are involved as well. There's a lot of strategic planning on and off the spot. If you think the raw aggressiveness of hand to hand combat like boxing, wrestling and Greco Roman fighting is only sport, please take into account the conditioning if body and mind. Fighters aren't stupid and they always have a plan or skillset to work with analyzing strengths and weaknesses. All sports require skill, conditioning, dtermination, hardcore strength reserves. All sports are in dome way also "humanized" or skillful. I would say death could be side effect of any sport, including sport. But if it us the only aim, it would nit be a sport, no boundaries would limit it, and no skills, and it would just be streetfighting at that point, which is flat out no rules and nit much skill Even Greco Romans had some skill for showmanship. No one is truly born sporty. Athletes want you to believe it. Yes some inherit qualities, but believe me heart and spirit if champion is most important and in this lies so much devotion and conditioning and skill. Have a good day.