What Makes a Sport a Sport?


Aidan Elsroth

Most dictionaries define “sports” as an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. To break down the definition even further, it really just means an activity that requires skills, strength, and speed.

So, if sports require being physically active and being technically skilled, then please tell me why people think racing in a car, parachuting, darts and eSports are sports? These sports do require reaction, something which almost every sport requires, but lack the accompanying physicality (and bumping into cars doesn’t count).

In today’s society, people like to expand definitions of certain categories, like what our society has done with gender and sexuality. What began with male and female has now thoughtfully expanded to LGBT, which then continued to add categories with q (queer/questioning), i (intersex), and a (allies), thus differentiating and further expanding the term “gender.” But how do you bend the definition of “sports” other than getting rid of the the physical aspect of it? I don’t really think you can. If you get rid of the physicality that makes up sports, then everything is a sport: competitive sleeping would be a sport, and speed shoe-tying could be in the Olympics.

I think the problem is that people view athletes and wish they could be athletes themselves. (I know I do sometimes.) Either that, or they just want to be recognized for being good at something. Whatever it is, I feel that people need to understand that because you are good at something doesn’t mean you’re an athlete. Congrats if you can break the Guinness Book of World Records for fastest time solving a Rubik’s cube, but don’t expect me to call you an athlete. Athletics should involve sports like rugby, hockey, and tennis, activities that involve movement, exertion, and physical persistence.

Lastly, people should understand that hobbies aren’t sports, either. The definition of a hobby is an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure. This context means that a hobby is an activity you do in your free time. I know eSports is growing in popularity, and I do admit some make a lot of money from it, but they aren’t athletes. They are people who take a passion to their hobby in the most extreme way possible. Yes, there are stadiums for eSports, and yes, people watch them participate, but they aren’t athletes: they are people who get paid to play video games. Saying eSports is a sport is ridiculous. They are people who became successful and moved out of their basements because of gaming. Calling them athletes means that you’re changing the definition of sports to mean something that more resembles the definition of hobbies. Sure, they need a lot of skill to play in the tournament, but where’s the physical part? Telling me that clicking 120 times a minute per one whole game of League, which can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, doesn’t count in my book as a physical activity. If you argue by saying that League or any other eSports games are sports, then guitar and piano playing is a sport. Thus, completing Superman 64 is a sport.

A sport requires both skill and physical exercise. Hobbies are activities that people do to pass the time. Know the difference next time you’re trying to convince someone that darts is a sport.