What’s a Sport?

Email exchange with Eighteen from Liberal Arts College. Context. I give her a hard time about a lack of school sport spirit:

Her. The top Men’s Ultimate frisbee team just won nationals!! Best frisbee team in the nation! And guess what I watched most of the game. Yeah. I watched a sports game. Live. And I didn’t have to.

Me. Ultimate frisbee isn’t a sport. It’s how hippies take breaks from studying.

Her. FALSE. Just because you can’t do it doesn’t mean it’s not a sport.

Note a few things about this give and take.

Not sure why, but her generation is just exclamation point happy! And I’m sorry to report it’s spreading to other age groups! Soon everyone will be shouting everything!

Sometime during middle school she learned that the best defense is a good offense. If only her mother responded to my teasing with equal aplomb.

Lastly, when I was her age, much to my dad’s dismay, I was becoming a frisbee legend in my own mind on the beaches of Southern Cal. My signature move was hucking the disc way out and over the shore break, waiting for it to catch the onshore wind, and then catching it to the delight of millions of beachgoers. It was an amazing display of power, feel, and hand-eye coordination. No doubt, had I chosen to take breaks from studying by playing Ultimate, I would have become the Lionel Messi of Ultimate.

But back to the central questions: Is Ultimate a sport? And what is a sport?

For an activity to be a sport, one must answer the following eight questions in the affirmative:

1) Are over involved parents present who think their child is the best and the coaches don’t know what the hell they’re doing?

2) Does the activity produce at least as many statistics as the Congressional Budget Office?

3) Is there the potential to someday turn pro at said activity?

4) Do highlights from the national championship game or event appear on ESPN’s SportCenter?

5) Are there occasional labor conflicts, lockouts, and shortened seasons?

6) Do young children have posters of the best players in their bedroom?

7) Do some participants engaged in the activity cut corners on the rules and/or run afoul of the law?

8) Do participants in the activity and their fans place more importance on the final outcome of competitions than objective rational observers would expect?

How does Ultimate hold up in the context of our eight-point litmus test? I submit to you the answers are: no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no!

2 thoughts on “What’s a Sport?

  1. I wonder how non-mainstream ultimate frisbee still is? Maybe it also is becoming a “sport” and it’s up to more obscure pastimes to fill the “non-sport pretending to be a sport” void.

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