A new survey asked people whether things like kickball, cheerleading, billiards and chess are sports. I have my own thoughts.
Many years ago, I wrote a list on the 11 Sports Whose Participants May or May Not Be Athletes. I liked the subject, although afterward I felt like perhaps I skipped a step. Before we debate whether the participants are athletes, we need to examine whether their sports are sports.
Six-and-a-half years later, Harris Interactive decided to jazz up one of its polls by digging into that exact topic.
Every year, Harris does a poll on the most popular sports in the U.S. The question is never whether pro football is going to win — it’s how big will its margin of victory be. (This time around, it doubled up the number two sport, baseball.)
This year, for the first time, they also asked whether various activities/fringe sports/ESPN 8 – The Ocho/games count as sports. Here are the results, and my sport/not a sport thoughts.
1 | Bowling – 52 percent say it’s a sport
Bowling was the only one of the 13 that received a majority “it’s a sport” vote. I can’t disagree. It even has its own special shoes. It requires physical ability AND an ability to perform under pressure with French fry grease on your fingers. Sport!
2 | Dodgeball – 40 percent
It’s been banned from virtually every school in the country for hurting children’s feelings AND faces. Sport!
3 | Kickball – 40 percent
I tore my damn ACL playing in an adult kickball league. Two weeks later I met my wife thanks to the adult kickball league. It has now become so competitive that I have friends who travel around the country playing in intense, elite kickball tournaments for serious money. Sport!
4 | Competitive dance – 34 percent
In the gender breakdown, 26 percent of men said “sport” versus 41 percent of women. I hate to do it, but I have to agree with the mouth breathing masses. Dance, even competitive, peaks at “art,” not “sport.” Not a sport!
5 | Fishing – 33 percent
I accidentally typed “Fisting” originally. Now THAT would be a sport. Not a sport!
6 | Cheerleading – 33 percent
I have never hidden my weird passion for Bring It On — but that’s just not enough to get me over the hump. This is a last resort — much like becoming a cheerleader after transferring from “Los Angeles” and learning your new school has no gymnastics team — but I have to go with my gut. Not a sport!
7 | Ultimate Frisbee – 32 percent
As far as hippie sports go, it’s far more of a real sport than hacky sack or groovin’. Sport!
8 | Billiards/pool – 28 percent
Much like darts, shuffle puck, Pop-a-Shot, skee ball and Photo Hunt, it’s primarily played drunkenly in bars. Hard to overcome that stigma. Not a sport!
9 | Chess – 14 percent
Chess is more than a game but “sport” doesn’t feel like the right classification either. Not a sport!
10 | Poker – 11 percent
Poker became extremely trendy a decade ago thanks to ESPN showing it, which brings up a good chicken-egg question: Does ESPN show something because it’s a sport, or is something a sport because ESPN shows it? Either way, I’m sure ESPN has at least 27 pundits on call who will happily yell their thoughts on that matter. Not a sport!
11 | Quidditch – 11 percent
I assume this refers to the quidditch that college kids now play — you run around with a broom between your legs throwing a ball through hula hoops on sticks. Because, of course, “real” quidditch comes from an imaginary book. I’m not even entirely convinced the quidditch from Harry Potter should even count as a sport — I once ranted about how quidditch is awful — so what chance does amateur muggle ground quiddtich have? Not a sport!
12 | Video gaming – 9 percent
This falls under the same umbrella as chess and poker; more than a game, not quite a sport. Competitive video gaming is insane to watch. I mean, I have no idea what’s going on but still. Not a sport!
13 | Competitive eating – 6 percent
I can’t believe this did so poorly. Is there any physical feat more impressive than strong competitive eating? Oh, you can hit a ball with a stick 30 percent of the time? These guys can eat 347 chicken wings in 12 minutes. Sport!