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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

A Naro View of Sports – 4/1/04

What is a sport?

This is a question that I, as a sports writer and editor, must ask myself every week. There are the obvious answers such as football, baseball, hockey, soccer, basketball, lacrosse, tennis, sailing, etc. But then there are those activities that seem to fall into a gray area, like ping-pong, pool, chess, and poker. Are those sports? To answer this question and to satisfy my needs as a sports writer and editor I took a two-pronged approach.

The first avenue I went down was the almighty dictionary. Dictionary.com gave three definitions for the word “sport.” The first definition read, “Physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively.” Immediately we can conclude that ping-pong is indeed a sport, as playing the game calls for constant moving of the feet and swinging of arms. Pool, poker, and chess technically do require some level of “physical activity,” but to set the bar at the level of physical activity required for those activities could set a scary precedent for what counts as physical activity.

The second definition read, “An activity involving physical exertion and skill that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often undertaken competitively.” Pool, chess, and poker definitely involve a great deal of skill but once again I am stuck on the element of physical activity and “physical exertion.” I have engaged in all three activities and the greatest physical exertion involved when playing any of these games was reaching for my beer while playing pool and poker, or flipping over the chess board after losing to my ten-year-old cousin.

However, the third definition presented read simply, “An active pastime; recreation.” Chess, pool, and poker are indeed very active pastimes and popular forms of recreation. Therefore, by definition they must be considered sports.

I have never been fond of dictionaries. There’s just something eerie about having a big book defining every aspect of life. So I turned to the second avenue: thinking for myself.

Physical exertion cannot be deemed greater than mental exertion, and the label of a sport should not be dictated by such a standard. Chess, poker, ping-pong, and pool involve great mental fitness and strategy. They are not activities that just anyone can pick up and excel at. There are different plays and situations that experienced players learn while competing. There are leagues and teams established. There are tournaments and championships to be battled for and won.

To judge sports solely on the basis of physical activity and fitness undermines the mental fitness and skill it takes to play other games. As sports editor of The Mass Media I will strive to print stories on every activity that students engage in competitively. If you want coverage of an event or if I am missing your team’s activities, please email me at [email protected] or stop by The Mass Media office on the second floor of the Campus Center.

Also, to clear up any confusion, golf is a sport, even though it is a horrible waste of land and water and takes loads of chemicals to maintain.