What Makes a Sport A “Sport”

Natalie Askowitz, Copy Editor

When the word sport is used, one almost automatically thinks of a sport like football, baseball or basketball. The definition, however, can be interpreted in many ways. Top End Sports defines a sport as “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others.”

“A sport is anything that can be made active by the human body or anything that you can make competitive,” junior Brandon Jamison said.

Physical activity alone does not always qualify a sport. Physical activity is apparent when the body uses energy, which can be experienced when playing outside, cleaning, or even walking, but these activities involve no competitive nature or award winners.

“A sport is anything that consists of competition and mostly involves a ball,” basket ball coach Sheldon Smith said.  

Many would say that a sport is a sport if it is involved in the Winter or Summer Olympic Games, yet, until recently, the number of sports allowed to participate in the Summer Olympic Games was capped at 28. The Olympics today can now allow as many sports as they desire, with no limit. This means in 2020 the vision of “sport” as limited to activities like basketball or baseball may change once exotic and different, but real, sports enter the Olympics.

“When you think of an Olympian, you think of someone who has a lot of talent,” Jamison said. “There is swimming, diving, and even ping pong and some may wonder why these are Olympic sports. They are there because they require skill and dedication.”

Yet, entry into the Olympic Games is not an easy feat. The sport must first be recognized by the International Olympic Committee. The sport is approved once the IOC determines whether the sport appeals to the youth audience as well as maximizes the popularity of the Olympic games. This criteria can leave some unknown sports out of the games, leaving people to believe them not to be sports.

Additionally, the distinction between sport and game could be lost in translation. Chess for example is no doubt competitive, however does not involve physical activity so would be considered a game.