We’ve all turned on ESPN or Fox Sports late at night on the weekend, expecting to see some sort of highlight show or replay of a baseball game, but we’ve instead seen some odd spectacle like lumberjacking or a replay of the World’s Strongest Man from 2004.
What’s usually the first thought that goes through our head?
“That’s not a sport.”
It’s a debate that has raged for years and will continue on for many more. Whether or not we view the “other” events to be worthy of the same characteristics as baseball and football and the like.
Let’s settle this debate. Here’s a list of the more hotly debated events, and whether or not I view them as sports.
Auto racing: Without a doubt, auto racing is the most debated in this topic. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard my friends and colleagues argue over whether or not the Daytona 500 is a tremendous athletic event or just an event for people who really like left turns.
I do understand auto racing is an event that takes other-worldly endurance and patience, and it does involve athleticism, whether you want to believe that or not.
But you know what else takes athleticism and endurance? Space travel. And I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a shuttle launch compared to the Super Bowl.
Do I respect the work that goes into being a top-notch race car driver? I do. Do I think it’s a sport? Not in my opinion.
Golf: Golf and auto racing couldn’t be much more different, but they are both hotly contested in the sport-or-not debate. I just don’t get why.
Simply put, golf involves more muscle memory than any game on the planet. In any other sport, you can at least be remotely good based on athleticism or strength. Not golf. You need strength to build up swing speed to get distance, you need athleticism to make different swings to make the ball travel at different heights and speeds, and making a putt is one of the most stressful and demanding mental challenges you can ever face, assuming you’re not doing it on a course that has windmills and mouse holes to go through.
Yes, I know you often see some less-than-athletic-looking figures play well at the sport. And, yes, I know it often moves at a snail’s pace. But that doesn’t make it any less of a sport. That just makes it an even more demanding mental one.
Bowling: This is a tough one. On one hand, I think it does involve muscle memory and hand-eye coordination. Many people can do it reasonably well, but it takes much practice and ability to get up to an elite status.
On the other hand, it’s tough for me to say an event that commonly has the phrase “be right back, I’m going to get jo jos” uttered on more than one occasion (by me) is truly a sport. Final verdict: sport, but just barely.
Ballroom dancing: The fact that I have to debate this one is a bit silly, but when the Olympics added it as a trial sport in 2008, I was forced to consider it.
Sure, it’s a scored competition, but so is American Idol. I have no doubt in my mind that those who compete in it are infinitely more athletic than most, but a sport? Not even close.
Chess: It’s a fantastic game, one of — if not the — most tactical board games that has ever been created. I wish I could play chess ( I don’t have the patience or mental aptitude for the game), but including this as a sport opens up a can of worms. What’s next: Connect Four? Monopoly? Mouse Trap? Not a sport.
Shooting: Another tough one. Being an expert marksman takes as much hand-eye coordination as any other athletic activity, and many have to hit a moving target. I don’t consider hunting a sport, but things like skeet shooting and biathlons that involve firing at targets are sports.
I’m going to guess there’s more than a few of you who disagree with me, and I would love to know what other athletic events I missed.
But debating whether or not something is a sport is not a sport.Sports Editor Chris Crawford can be reached at 253-358-4155 or by email at Chris.Crawford@gateline.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_chris.