ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
Figure skating! I never thought the sports world would be up in arms about such a “sport.”
The controversy surrounding doubles’ figure skating at the Olympics has reawakened a struggle within me as sports writer and a sports fan.
In short, what makes an activity a “sport”?
I’ve heard a lot of analysis in the aftermath of the recent figure skating fiasco. Because the outcome is based mostly on subjective evaluations rather than definitive data, I’m not sure it should be considered a sport.
I’m not saying the event isn’t a worthy physical activity. But I wonder if figure skating-and all other such activities that are determined by subjective evaluations-should be labeled differently or be called something other than “sports.”
In our office, we’ve occasionally discussed whether cheerleading should be considered a sport.
Cheerleading is a great and intense athletic endeavor-but not a sport. Even when cheerleading becomes competitive, the results are, again, subjectively determined.
Webster’s Dictionary defines “sport” as “a physical activity engaged in for pleasure.” By that standard, anything done physically for pleasure could be considered a sport.
Sorry, but that definition is just too vague for me. Your own imagination will tell you why.
Someone needs to sit down and redefine the word “sports” and what it truly means in the world.
Many of the folks who disagree with me believe all sports ultimately are subjective, and to an extent I agree.
But to a large degree, sports that involve officials or referees base their judgment on criteria that are largely objective.
My dad informed me the other day that the Kansas State High School Activities Association recognizes cheerleading as a sport.
What do cheerleaders compete for? Cheers?
I’ve watched cheerleading competitions on ESPN with my wife, who, as a former cheerleader, is devoutly opposed to my views on this matter. I realize cheerleading teams can compete against each other for awards.
But that’s hardly the case in Kansas high schools. If you know of some examples, I’d sure like to hear about them. Seriously.
Cheerleading has become a co-ed activity at some schools, so don’t simply dismiss me as a rambling sexist.
My point is pretty simple: Subjectivity in sports creates problems.
The fact that we now have co-gold medalists in couples’ figure skating, and no definitive champion, proves the point.
Scores based on judges’ evaluations and other expressions of personal opinion only help to complicate sports that are already simple and objective in nature.
Let’s make it easy. Keep it simple, with a winner, a loser and a clear definition of the word “sport.”
We can still enjoy all kinds of activities, even if they are judged or subjective.
Let’s just find a different name for the activities that don’t have clear measure for determining a winner.