Sport vs. Game

Some of the most fun things in the world are those that can be debated. Is Nascar a sport? If not, what defines a sport?

My preferred definition of a sport is when a game is played and the sides interact with each other. By my definition, golf is more of a ‘game’ and less of a ‘sport’. As a test, if it is something you could learn to do in isolation, and then compete at the highest level, it’s probably a game.

My definitions get into some tricky spots, like gymnastics, where the other team’s score may determine the difficulty of a performance, but where theoretically the opponent might not matter.

There is a second differentiator. Since my sports require an opponent who interacts, (i.e., basketball, not really darts), sports typically have a current¬†metagame. Like basketball, where the best teams vacillate from being full of “bigs” who dominate the rim, to playing small ball. In fact, an NBA team’s success depends largely on whether they are built to compete with the rest of the league¬†at that moment as opposed to how objectively well they play basketball (whatever they means) as a gymnast may be judged, or a sprinter timed.

A sprinter and a weightlifter are both competing to achieve an end, the way they get there doesn’t matter much. Some of the most beloved figures in ‘sports’ are people who transcend that boundary. Tiger Woods made golf feel like a sport when his opponents melted away on Sunday week after week as he demolished his opposition.

Like most things, it’s a continuum, very little is perfectly a game or perfectly sport.

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