Monday, January 05, 2009

What's a real sport?

Bryan Hollister of the Bleacher Report has a "humor" column this week in which he lists and explains the top 15 sports that are not sports. I'm not going to get super uptight about this list. But I do have some things to say about his choices.
First, though, it should be noted that the definition of sport is always up for debate--and this is the way it should be. Because a sport does not always involve "blood, sweat, and tears shed through hours of workouts, practices, scrimmages, successes, and failures." Or at least not all those elements all the time. It's a pretty naive definition of a sport, but it's the only one that Hollister offers.
I'm not going to comment on all 15 of Hollister's offerings. Check them out for yourself. Here are just some of my thoughts on some of his.
Winter sports seem to be especially heavy hit, curling, bobsled, and luge. And if Hollister really thinks that no one has ever said about luge "that's what I want to do when I grow up" he's never met Ebuz from the Title IX Blog. Ask her about her lost childhood dream and wasted luging talent. The point is that there are a lot of people who do dream of doing these sports. I wanted to be in the first Olympics to offer 4-women bobsled. I had the thighs for it!
If Hollister does not think sailing is not a sport, he has never seen the long-lost Jennifer Grey/Matthew Modine film, Wind. And if he thinks that something is not a sport if it is not affordable to the general population, he's going to have to add a lot more sports to his list--a lot.
Okay, I am not a fan of synchronized swimming either. But there's no way I can sustain myself under water, upside down for a few minutes doing fancy leg tricks and throwing other women out of the water. The costumes, the hair, the make-up is all a little much. But I think it kinda stinks that any sport that has an overt aesthetic element (I would argue that all sports are aesthetic of course) is dismissed. Also if another of Hollister's rapidly mounting criteria is that there's isn't a version for the other sex--men in this case; he might be due for a history lesson.
It's also problematic that some of sports on the list like badminton, cricket, and ping-pong are dominated by non-Americans and/or non-white people.
Weird that diving--not a sport--but gymnastics is because there are more apparatuses in gymnastics and the "floor doesn't have much give." One, gymnastic floors do have some give to them--they are spring floors. Not that doing all those moves over and over feels great. Also, water, when you hit it at a high velocity and from a distance like, say, 10 meters, doesn't tickle either. Someone give this guy a physics lesson.
Rowing? Really?
I might be convinced that pool is not a sport, but the fact that he used a photo of one of the best pool players in the world who happens to be an Asian woman who exudes a certain amount of sex appeal, makes me a little nauseous, especially because Hollister enjoyed inserting random pics of "hot" female athletes in his slideshow.


mhueter said...

Interesting find.

I have to agree with you - this writer is obviously a white American male. It's clear that it's coming from that perspective. Which is unfortunate for the writer.

Also, it's interesting to see that (I think I counted) 6 women pictured out of the 20. I think that's the best representation we've gotten in an article that includes females in the sporting industry.

Should be noted that all of those listed are non-contact sports. So I guess what he's trying to say is that physical contact is needed in order to be considered "real athlete."

Diane said...

I notice he left Nascar off of his list.

(And can you imagine someone "joking" "I'm not totally racist..."?)

ken said...

He said the same thing about being sexist. Note, too, that all but 2 of the pics of women are of, according to his definition, non-athletes.

EBuz said...

Yes, it's true. As a kid I was convinced I had missed my calling in luge. But I have to admit, my rationale was more of process-of-elimination than anything else. Luge had to be my calling because I wasn't particularly talented at any sport I'd tried, and luge was a sport I hadn't!

But I am still truly fascinated by the sport. I hope to get out to Lake Placid and try it out sometime soon.

ken said...

I think you're a pretty talented hockey player--and swimmer--and cycler. You just found all your talents in adulthood. Probably more enjoyable this way, anyway.

Anonymous said...

It was an ignorant article - not a lot of thought went into it (showing random pics and calling them "intermission" leaves the impression he was just putting something together to - to what? - get attention?). He's obviously not an athlete. While I wouldn't call pool a sport (I think of it as a game - bowling too actually), most of what is on his list require athleticism.

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