Tales of Bittersweet Loyalty

A Sport is a Sport is a Sport

July 22, 2011

Initially, I was going to give my insight on rock-paper-scissors, but then I thought to myself, Is that even a sport? My first thought was yes; of course, it’s a sport. To me, any kind of competition is a sport. But since I’m not the brightest guy around, I decided to look it up to be sure.

Merriam-Webster defines a sport as “a physical activity engaged in for pleasure.” I don’t know about you but sexual intercourse was the first thing that came to mind when I read that. Is sex a sport? I’m sure it can be between friends and the winner would be determined by the quantity and/or quality of the people they have slept with. But the one main difference between sex and all other sports is the lack of an audience, unless you happen to be a shooting a porno. I’m going to add to the definition “a physical activity engaged in for pleasure that can be watched.”

My second source would be from dictionary.com which defines a sport as “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.” On that note, rock-paper-scissors is definitely competitive as you’re going one-on-one against another foe, but the question now is: Is it an athletic activity? I wouldn’t say so. It doesn’t take much physical prowess to shake your fist up and down three times before throwing your move. Based on that definition, rock-paper-scissors is not a sport. I have accepted that fact.

But on ESPN, the self-proclaimed “Worldwide Leader in Sports,” I see people playing Texas Hold’em. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing and watching poker but why would it be on ESPN? Is poker a sport? There’s a lot of skill and strategy involved in Hold’em but where is the athleticism? If anything, rock-paper-scissors is more of an athletic activity than poker as there’s more physicality with the fist pumping than sitting on your ass all day long. Surely anything shown on ESPN would have to be a sport, if not a discussion about sports. But since Texas Hold’em is shown on ESPN, it must be a sport. How are you going to argue against the top rated cable sports channel?

So if poker is a sport, a game of mental fortitude with absolutely no athleticism, then you must include every other intellectual competition: Chess, Scrabble, the spelling bee (also seen on ESPN) and Magic. Yes, Magic: The Gathering. In this game, you are a wizard summoning monsters and spells to destroy your opponent. To the people not-in-the-know, this seems like another Dungeon and Dragons, fantasy geek-type game whose only members are those that have no job, still live at home with their mom and whose only live interaction with the opposite sex was with the cashier at Walmart. This is the stigma that comes with anything that deals with fantasy and wizards. But Magic is a game of incredible skill that, similar to chess, requires you to plan multiple moves ahead while predicting your opponent’s actions. Much like poker, you need to learn to read your opponent. Not surprisingly, several professional poker players play Magic, including David Williams, who won a cool $3.5 million by coming in second place in the World Series of Poker’s main event in 2004. Guess it’s okay to admit that you play Magic if you’re raking in that kind of cash, but I, on the other hand, will not confirm or deny ever playing that game.

But I digress, so what is a sport? I believe it’s whatever you make of it. To me, it’s a competition that requires a skill, either physical or mental, that ultimately produces a winner and can be seen by an audience. To me, rock-paper-scissors is a sport.

  • Since Americans love their Sports, the public image of Poker is very important at this time, due to “Black Friday” and the current poker legal issues. There is a very easy to read article on this subject: http://www.Pokers-a-Sport.com Thanks

  • Oẳn Tù Tì !  Haha, nice article.  I know you like to play Magic: The Gathering.  What about the sport, hunting?

  • Oẳn Tù Tì !  Haha, nice article.  I know you like to play Magic: The Gathering.  What about the sport, hunting?