Volume 90, Issue 75

Thursday, February 06, 1997



OVERTIME: A diction deduction

What, oh what, is a sport?

Welcome to another year of auto racing, bobsledding and speed-walking – the high-tech and expanding world of sports that continues to evolve in strange and interesting ways.

What would you like to watch? Downhill mountain biking? Billiards? How about a few thousand episodes of the World's Strongest Man competition? With so many strange new forms of sports around, we, as loyal fans, must ask ourselves: are we watching a sport or just another form of entertainment?

Can we categorize a Formula One go-kart race with equestrian or para-sailing? Should there be a difference between Greco-Roman wrestling and Hulk-a-mani-acting?

First, let's examine the word. According to Oxford's Dictionary, a sport is 'a game or competitive activity usually played outdoors and involving physical exertion, e.g. cricket, football, racing.'

But the current use of the term 'sport' now includes the likes of darts, tractor-pulls, synchronized swimming and bowling. Should these various sports species continue to be held within the same context? Or is it time for a legitimate separation in our diagnosis of sports?

For argument's sake, let's say yes.

It's time to rejuvenate the term 'sport' to incorporate the variety of games and competition the term currently stands for. There must be guidelines created to separate athletics from aesthetics, business from fitness and speed from greed.

What we need are non-universal terms, descriptive words to predicate 'sport' that will indicate all of the criteria involved.

This is what the new definition of sports in the '90s should be:

MAINSTREAM SPORT: any game that has the possibility to be broadcast on the FOX network, have a video game based on it, involves intense financial disputes, has commercial endorsements and attracts hundreds of thousands of people weekly.

This includes football, baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer and rugby.

JET STREAM SPORT: any game or competition that has low television ratings, little recognition, high fitness levels, no money and can be openly viewed by the public though nobody cares enough to follow it.

This includes racquet sports, fencing, the Olympics, figure skating and endurance events

EXTREME SPORT: Any competition that can be watched between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. on TSN, which endangers the life of at least two people at a time, involves a trend, cannot be done by normal people and requires something or someone to be flipped, twisted or launched.

This includes windsurfing, rock climbing, skydiving, street luge, dodgeball, roller-anything, scuba diving, bungee jumping, American Gladiators and downhill mountain biking on snow.

DOWNSTREAM SPORT: Any other competition that nobody can categorize. A form of entertainment that has been dubbed a sport only by those involved, or by The Nashville Network. Although there is a high demand to compete in these events, there are no guidelines for physical fitness, mental difficulty, athletic ability or excitement – simply because they are all equally strange sports.

This includes bowling, curling, golf, equestrian events, parlour games, bobsledding, fishing, hunting, auto racing, bull riding and anything involving a monster truck.

Regardless of what each is classified as, sports fans should enjoy every spectra of the sporting world for what it's worth – though some are worth more than others.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997