Trying to resolve blah blah blah (Part III)

>> Tuesday

All (two) of you asked for it (probably in jest), so here it is--a continuation of my last post.

Golf is not a sport. Golf is a physical skills competition, and it may even be generous to call it that given how poorly it fits the survival instinct aspect of the "athletic" part of the triangle. But certainly, there is no interplay. Contest that if you must ("If a guy's down by two strokes instead of one, he'll play a different shot!" Sorry, you're missing my point), but I'm not backing off the fact that it's ultimately just an individual challenge. Mano a pelota.

Remember that junk I said about agendas and slippery slope comparisons? Guess what; I'm pulling both those cards right here. If golf is a sport, I'll argue that cornhole, a.k.a. bags has a pretty solid claim. So does that old carnival game where you swing the huge mallet and try to slide the thingy up the pole to ring the bell. Those things are awesome, and I wish I owned one.

As for agendas, maybe I subconsciously formulated my definition to be one that excludes golf. I won't say I hate golf. I've played it on rare occasions and have sorta moderately enjoyed it I think. Neither do I dislike all golfers--only my stereotype of the obnoxious, fatheaded, impressed-by-his-connections-to-county-level-politicians golfer who doesn't understand that no one's interested in his war stories from the course. Even if I were a little ambivalent on the sportitude of golf, I think that guy would ruin it for me.

Auto racing comes a much closer to being a sport, but it's hard to justify on the athleticism criteria. I understand that drivers need to have excellent muscular endurance and precision in the arms and that the mental fatigue can cause tremendous physical duress. But the physical mechanisms used to drive an automobile are less survivalist than they are facilitative--similar to performing surgery or basket weaving. Therefore, I think it fits better in the poorly-named-in-hindsight "nerd competitions" category.

Cheerleading. No.

Self-propelled human being racing events as a general category--be it swimming, running, cycling, etc.--are sports to the extent that they involve an element of defense. Sprints (e.g. 100m, 200m) are obviously just physical skills competitions, as the runners / swimmers are confined to their lanes, and the objective is setting a personal best as much as it is beating the other competitors. Ultimately, the other runners have no effect on one runner's performance.

On the other hand, cycling and some distance running events do have an element of interplay in that a runner gives himself an advantage not only by running fast--the element that can be equally performed in a (figurative) vacuum--but also by getting in the way of another competitor. The relative effect of this element is, I suppose, debatable, so I've got no problem with either the sport or physical skills competition distinction. Your call. To make Pat happy, I'll err on the side of sport in this case. Also, I like distance running. (Hey, remember that part at the beginning of this thing about selective inclusion / exclusion and skewed logic? I don't either.)


Whoa, look at the time... Lunch break's over. If anyone wants to pick this up further, be my guest, but it's time for me to get back to writing stuff and making colorful diagrams for people that pay me.

8 comments:

Paul 3:38 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paul 3:39 PM  

Sorry Vin, but you're bending your rules to exclude golf, or you're simply misclassifying it. The pressure of competing against other humans does alter the performance of an individual golfer. If anything, golf is a "game"/"nerd competition" and falls into the same category as NASCAR. These two entities represent head-to-head competitions with scoring systems but do not require multiple athletic skills.

Also, in retrospect, I think you should have included "team play" into the "athleticism" realm. For example, one could argue that MLB pitchers essentially have a single skill, like a golfer. However, what qualifies baseball as "athletic" is that it requires a number of individuals to have unique/specialized athletic skills. In other words, your "athleticism" definition is too narrow.

Anonymous,  4:06 PM  

What about competitive drinking? you keep score, you try to make the other person laugh to shoot beer out their nose(interplay), and drinking ability(athleticism).

Also, soccer is not a sport.(countdown until Mike posts an angry response starting now)

Vinnie 4:35 PM  

Performance pressure caused by competition is very different from the concept of "interplay." If you conflate the two, you leave the door too far open, in my opinion.

You're right about the specialization thing. After defining the term, I realized that I could be categorizing something as a sport but essentially excluding some of its participants from the sport elements of it. The closest thing I could come up with is a kicker in football, but even then, the defensive line--in a very immediate sense--dictates how quickly and how high he must kick the ball.

A pitcher may initiate action without a specific prompt by the hitter, but I would argue that the abilities and habits of the hitter do immediately dictate how the pitcher will deliver the ball. In a sense, I suppose it's not much different than the way the score in golf will affect how aggressively a guy will play a shot. Having said that, baseball rules and golf sucks, so I'm sticking to my argument.

Vinnie 4:36 PM  

Also, before Mike has a stroke, you are kidding, right?

Mike 6:14 PM  

I got no problem with people who legitimately think that...as long as anonymous (and I think I know who anonymous is) can defend his claim.

This is America. You're entitled to your wrong opinion.

Anonymous,  6:30 PM  

I can neither defend it nor justify it, but the point stands. Only at YCS can you get away with that.

James 1:14 PM  

On the other hand, cycling and some distance running events do have an element of interplay in that a runner gives himself an advantage not only by running fast--the element that can be equally performed in a (figurative) vacuum--but also by getting in the way of another competitor. The relative effect of this element is, I suppose, debatable, so I've got no problem with either the sport or physical skills competition distinction.

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