February 9, 2016

You Say Sport - I Say Game

For as long as I have walked on planet earth, the sport versus game debate regularly pops up. David Papineau is the most recent entry into the ongoing debate - at least as it pertains to the Olympics.

While many activities are both games and sports – tennis and golf, for instance – there are also sports that aren’t games – skiing and surfing, say – and games that aren’t sports – snakes and ladders, or chess and bridge, for that matter.

Source : Aeon (https://aeon.co/opinions/chess-and-bridge-are-games-that-don-t-belong-in-the-olympics)

Papineau suggests that to be classified a sport requires a physical exertion. And then to make his point, talks a lot about Chess and Bridge. I get it. But how much ‘physical exertion’?

  • A Formula One Driver ?
  • A Snooker / Pool Player ?
  • A Darts Player ?

I have seen people define sport as being something that has a score associated. The refined with ‘immutable’ score - so excluding (say) ballroom dancing. (BTW, if you watch a real pro you will witness physical exertion.) Personally, I like the definition that a friend of mine provided some years ago.

Any ‘game’ that can be played whilst smoking or drinking during the process is not a sport.

I like the definition, because it automatically removes ‘fishing’ and ‘bowling’, but in truth it really doesn’t work. Consider;

  • I recall seeing a runner in Hyde Park a few years ago, cigarette in one hand, cell phone in the other. Is running no longer a sport ?
  • Pretty much anything associated with Swimming is automatically a sport … trust me - it isn’t.

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