Sunday, March 29, 2009

What is a Real Sport?

I think we’ve all heard and/or been a part of the 'what is a sport', or is Tiger Woods an athlete, conversation. It’s kind of like that ongoing discussion in high school about the greatest guitar players. Everyone has an angle, right?
Well, mine is to define what a real sport is, and the reason that is relevant is because this is Real Denver Sports, the blog. Dum-dum duuum! (intro music!)
The majority of the content of this blog will be surrounding real sports.
No Basketball.
No Baseball.
Whoa slick! You say, baseball is America’s pastime and basketball is one of the four major sports in the USA. True.
But here at Real Denver Sports I like to apply a simple rule of thumb to the definition of a real sport. Do the players wear a helmet? Ask yourself that question and you’ve got your answer. Helmet = Real Sport.
Ergo, hockey and football. Not baseball or basketball.
Now I know what some of you are thinking, if we agree to define a sport based on protective equipment, shouldn’t it be the jock strap? Surely that is the defining gear, equipment to guard the equipment. Here’s your answer, no. First of all you sexist cave man, haven’t you heard of Title IX? Second, how many millions of times have you seen America’s Funniest Home Videos where dad ends up taking one to the family jewels by junior? By that definition parenthood is a sport. Nope.
It’s the helmet. A real sport is a game that is physical in nature or hazardous in nature in such a way that the head requires protection. That is a real sport. Now if you look at things this way I think you will see that you are going to be forced to accept some sports you never thought much about before and realize that some of the ones you consider sports to be nothing but highly commercialized games.
Let’s put it through a couple more tests, shall we?
By the helmet test we end up with the following real sports:
Car racing, IRL and NASCAR, etc.
Motorcycle racing
Downhill skiing
Bobsledding, skeleton, etc
Horse racing
Mountain climbing
Now let's look at athletes that don't wear a helmet:
Ping pong
Poker (just because it’s on ESPN doesn’t make it a sport)
Track & field
If you can get over your shock that the B-balls might not be real sports you'll see that it falls into place very logically. Those are not real sports.
With rules come exceptions. Boxing/MMA, just about any sort of combat game is a real sport sans helmet. Why? Because the point of the game is to injure your opponent, very often by punching your opponent in the head. And even in the most outlandish of these combat bouts it is not allowed to deliver a blow to the nads, further proof that a jock can not be the measure of a real sport. An exception to the exception here would be fencing. Yes there is a helmet, but since sword play was at one time (like any face to face combat) a means of survival/war, putting a damn helmet on nullifies the whole point. Not a real sport.
Bull riding is in that grey area regarding protection of the grey matter. It’s a real sport; it’s just a matter of time before enough cowboys get their melons splattered all over the arena dirt before helmets will permanently replace a Stetson. And that is the same logic that got us to where we are today with hockey. Cause I’m sure some of you base/basketball lovin’ people are a bit miffed by now and have thought, Hey! Hockey players haven’t always worn helmets! True, but we are talking about a day and age when every one was either pretty fatalistic because they were all going to die of consumption anyway or just your typically drunken, crazed Canadians. And they invented the game, if they didn’t want to wear a helmet, who could argue?
Cricket and baseball are a bit trickier. Here we have a couple of players that don a helmet in only certain circumstances. Near as I can tell we have an odd situation where catchers are the only guys on the field playing a real sport. The batter wears a helmet maybe 10% of the game, and that is high due to all the rituals that go on between pitches. Nope, not a real sport. Cricket is pretty much in the same boat except that I think there is the unique situation in that the bowler is allowed to try to throw the ball at the batsman in order to hit him. That’s kinda cool. But I will have to do a little more research into this before considering cricket any different from baseball.
And there you have it. Irrefutable!
Actually I would like to hear your angle on the whole thing. Please leave a comment and tell me what you think a real sport is!!
Posted by: From the Point


  1. if it takes place in a car, it's not a sport. i think you should take nascar off the list.

  2. I don't agree with all your conclusions as I tend to be a bit more lenient with my definition of sport. However I like the helmet distinction. I haven’t heard that before.

  3. I may have to re-think bull riding; I think it might be "just stupid". In other words it may fall into the "extreme sports" category, where helmets are prevalent, but skill is questionable.

  4. I would argue to keep NASCAR in as, although not my favorite to watch, anything at those speeds with that amount of danger on the line involves more thinking and hand-eye coordination than most sports.

    Also, since when don't they wear helmets in baseball??? Ever see someone get plunked in the head with a 100-mph heater? Thank God for those helmets