I've written before about the gap between football season and spring training, but every four years this gap is filled by the winter Olympics, which are now in full swing. The Olympics provide a wide assortment of games played between countries from all over the world. The thing is that since the Olympics have been a devout tradition for over 1300 combined years we as contemporary thinkers find it profitable to add 3 new “sports” every time it rolls around. It's not like I expect the Olympics to still consist of only the 50m dash and naked man wrestling, but there is currently a group of lobbyists trying to make darts a part of the 2012 games. If we're going to start playing drinking games during the Olympics can we at least play quarters or something?
I'm not a fan of the Olympics because of the gross amount of fake sports they not only allow to be called sports but encourage to be called sports. This isn't meant to take anything away from the actual athletes that win gold medals for dancing with a ribbon, but I think it's important to make the distinction between sport and various other sorts of competition. I'm also not just knocking on the Olympics, it just so happens that one of the events during this year's games made it onto my list (NASCAR?).
I'd like to start by giving you my personal definition of a sport.
1.) The game must involve a certain level of physicality.
There's no way to quantitatively discern a sufficient degree from an inadequate one, which creates a very touchy grey area. My line of distinction is drawn on whether or not the game regularly requires you to use all your might in some form or another. The grey area is now “Well how often is regularly?” to which I reply more often than in NASCAR.
2.) The game must also involve a certain level of skill.
Arm wrestling sure does require a shitload of physicality, but you only need a couple of brain cells and one functioning appendage to be successful. When a game is only as complex as overpowering your opponent I believe it loses sports status. I judge this requirement by how feasible it would be for a smaller opponent to beat the larger one (or in some cases the larger opponent i.e. running). “Well how feasible is feasible enough?” Far less feasible than in NASCAR. “Are you going to make fun of NASCAR this whole time?” The title of this article could have very easily been changed from “Fake Sports” to “NASCAR” and still have served the same purpose.
And my third and final rule:
3.) The game must encompass head-to-head competition.
So gymnastics doesn't sneak in.
I'm aware that I'm presenting an argument on a subject that can never be settled and even if it were to be settled would not change anything, but I cannot bear to sit here idly while greats such as Ted Williams, Michael Jordan, and Rocky Marciano are figuratively seated next to Jan-Ove Waldner.
Fake sport numero uno:
Created in: 1947 United States .
How to play: Several participants modify stock cars to certain specifications and race around a circle for a gross number of laps. Though there are explicit details to what constitutes a legal car, most drivers choose to cheat and break these rules, relying on the system's inability to check all of the cars in any given race. Cheating in NASCAR has come to be expected. A large number of racers have won races, been convicted of cheating, and still held on to the victory (including Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson). They are docked Winston Cup points, but that doesn't always have any direct effect on the racer's season finish.
Sure it's a sport: Driving a car requires high levels of endurance. The constant G force felt by the driver is considered physical activity.
It is not a goddamn sport: Driving a car does not require any more endurance than it takes to sit in a chair and watch NASCAR. The people at the race are exerting as much physical force as the drivers they are watching. I still don't understand where people get off bringing up G force like it's equivalent to running a marathon. These cars are going around 190 MPH, not 750. I mean, what do they do to practice, sit in a chair and grit their teeth? I guess they would have to rest their arms straight out on something, too.
NASCAR is really just an outlet for people who want to watch sports, but don't have time to memorize all of those pointless statistics.
“How'd ol' Jimmy do today?”
“Well that's that. See ya later!”
It's also safe haven for those who still don't understand the concept of conferences and divisions. Hell, the teams aren't even really teams. If you're going to try and convince me that a pit crew is a team I'll backhand you across the temple. Teams have names like The St. Louis Cardinals, The Chicago Bears, or The Blue Team, not The Marlboro Reds or The 12s. Don't try and bullshit me, it's a bunch of guys in jump suits holding clipboards with their arms crossed. What do they use that headset for? “Hey, Dale. You still drivin'? Ok good. Yep, good job teammate.”
Indy Car Racing
I totally should.
Created in: It's disputed (why?), but most believe 1400 Scotland .
How to play: Playing atop a sheet of ice a player slides the “rock” (basically a polished stone with a handle) towards a target. Two other players jog ahead of the rock and “sweep” (they literally sweep, that shouldn't be in quotes. The guy writing this article obviously has no idea what he's talking about) to make up for the thrower's shitty toss. The object is to get your rocks in a bullseye and knock your opponents' rocks out of the bullseye.
Sure it's a sport: It requires extreme precision and a lot of strength. Those rocks weigh 45 pounds you know!
It is not a goddamn sport: This seems more like something two janitors at a hockey arena would do on lunch break than a sport. Funny (nope), the sports I'm familiar with need to be cleaned up after, yet curling leaves the rink in better condition then it was in initially.
What really keeps this thing from making my Actual Sports List (he's kidding, right? He can't possibly have one) is how boring it is. People make the case that baseball is boring, but that's just because a lot of the time nothing is happening. If you were to watch a baseball game that showed only the action you may still not find interest in it, but it certainly wouldn't be boring. Curling, on the other hand, allows for zero action. There exists no possibility of two teammates colliding face first into one another. It's highly unlikely that one of the stones is going to bounce off a defender's head and settle directly in the middle of the bullseye. If you can't get injured playing a game then it's definitely not physical enough to be considered a sport. If you injure yourself playing curling then you definitely should not be considered an athlete. What do the DL periods look like in curling? “Bob's on the ten minute DL. Yeah, he's pulling a splinter out of his thumb. I told you we should have bought those plastic brooms.”
"I'm sorry, sir, but your neckhole is not of legal size. You'll have to change shirts."
Created in: 900 China
How to play: There are various games of poker, though the most popular nowadays is Texas Hold ‘Em. In Texas Hold ‘Em everyone who wants to know how to play already knows how to play by now, but the masses of poker television programs insist on explaining the rules at the beginning of each broadcast. I, on the other hand, am going to give you guys the benefit of the doubt. I figure if you haven't learned how to play Hold ‘Em by now you'll probably skip this portion anyway. Then again the majority of the people who opened this page probably scrolled to the bottom, saw there were no captions, and redirected themselves to our lovely forums. The avatar theme for next month is going to be various cars that were featured in cartoons. I needs me some Simpsons station wagon.
Sure it's a sport: It's on ESPN for four hours a day. That's more coverage than football gets on Saturdays.
It's not a goddamn sport: People who consider poker a sport just don't get it. If poker's a sport then baking contests, Jeopardy!, and video games should be too. Wherein poker becomes a sport is also where the distinction between sport and game vanishes. Are poker players now considered athletes? Then again I hear that sitting in a chair for hours at a time is a physical feat worthy Winston Cup points (he's still making fun of NASCAR?).
The thing that really ruins poker's reputation is the uncanny ability to reward the worse player. Surprisingly, this is also the most exciting and sought after moment in the game. Dubbed the “suckout” it causes players to hoot and holler and say things like “Yeah baby I knew I could do it” even though they had absolutely no effect on what happened whatsoever. What's even more annoying than this is the blowups that suckout victims perform. It really looks like someone just shot them in the chest. “No! NOOOOO!! AHH! GAH uh ooooooooh (collapses on floor)”. Like it's never happened before and they thought it was impossible for something with a 25% chance to actually occur. God damn.
How to play: Though the specifics will vary from tournament to tournament the basic gist is that each contestant tries to catch the biggest fish or the largest amount of total fish or something along the lines. There are rules against certain lures and stuff to make for some sort of a rulebook. If certain rods, lures, and boats weren't prohibited it would just be a piece of paper to wrap your fish in.
Sure it's a sport: Bass fishing is the latest craze! You have to know where to look for fish and reeling in the big ones can be one of the most grueling challenges in sports as we know it.
It's not a goddamn sport: It's not a goddamn sport. I don't understand how one person can be more influential to a fish taking their lure than another. With this in mind it also appears as though this constitutes 90% of fishing. Unless you don't set the hook (noob) or the fish cuts your line (again, not the fisherman's fault) that fish is not going anywhere. The size of the fish is also not of any real importance. The way I see it the bigger the fish the dumber it probably is and the easier it is to trick it. If you catch a wee small bass with glasses and dry scalp I'll be impressed. The same goes for hunting in general. If you kill an enormous deer all that really means to me is that it was a larger and therefore easier target for you, let alone that it's probably a lot slower too. If you're going to classify hunting as a sport at least lay the guidelines down correctly, because in this case bigger does not mean better.
"Hahaha uuu guyyssssssssss let's get serius!!"
Created: 1883 Great Britain
How to…play?: (why would you try to piss off cheerleaders?) This is where it gets a little more complicated. At first it seemed to be that games were being confused as sports. Now cheerleading isn't even a game. There are no rules to cheerleading and there certainly isn't a scoreboard. I understand that there are cheerleading competitions, but then again I bet there's a competition for computer programming, which I'm not about to buy season tickets to.
Cheerleading involves a group of people dancing in synchronization with one another while coercing the fans of at a sporting event to get “riled up”. Though this has never worked once it's stuck around because cheerleaders very frequently turn out to be gorgeous women.
Sure it's a sport: Like, lifting people and like tossing them is hard and stuff. You have to be like able to dance and stuff and if you like mess up you like get yelled at by like your coach (PHHHT! “Coach” hahahaha).
It's not even a goddamn game: Let alone a goddamn sport. It's very easy to see how cheerleader could confuse what they do as a sport, as its sole purpose is to enjoy the amount of fun people have at a sporting event. Cheerleaders eventually develop the misconception that people are there to see them and not the sporting event, I guess. Since people are saying they are going to the sporting event, and call it a sport, but the cheerleaders think they're going to see them they think cheerleading is a sport. You know what? It's a lot easier just to call cheerleaders stupid for thinking cheerleading is a sport. There's a new #1 rule for being qualified as a sport:
MUST HAVE A SCOREBOARD
Well, there are plenty of other activities that I'm sure people are going to try to call sports soon, but I have neither the time nor energy to say “< soccer” anymore, so I'll just throw them in a list here for you to skim over:
Going to school
(writing on the internet)
Going to the gym
Driving home from work
Don't hurt yourselves throwing those curling rocks!