What Really Constitutes a Sport?

22nd April 2022

Many people dispute what constitutes a sport. Does it always have to involve running around and getting out of breath? Perhaps not. The Cambridge dictionary defines a sport as “a game, competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules for enjoyment, and/or as a job”. If we take this literally, then many everyday activities could be considered a sport. Writing a blog post, driving a car, and playing poker could all be considered sports. This seems silly, though, right? 

Well, let’s think about this further. When you think of the word sport, what comes to mind will likely be football, cricket, or even the Olympics. These are all professional sports and require a great deal of physical training, challenge and some element of natural talent to play them at such a high level. Something else they have in common is that they involve competition. There has to be some element of competition to make something officially a sport. For instance, running alone would not constitute a sport, but running in a race would because it involves having a winner and a loser. 

Sport England doesn’t have the authority to decide what is considered a sport. However, they recognise a list of sporting activities according to the Council of Europe’s European Sports Charter 1993 definition. 

Game vs Sport

There seems to be some dispute around games such as chess and bowling and whether they can be considered sporting activities. Chess, for instance, involves competing against a rival and a great deal of practice and skill. These factors would make it a strong contender for the title of Sport; however, it doesn’t pose any physical challenge to the competitors, which leads many to agree that it cannot be a sport. 

On the other hand, bowling involves competition, a great deal of skill to master, and physical ability, and is, therefore, by definition, a sport. Bowling has been described as ruthlessly competitive and challenging, despite it being seen as recreational. There is little margin for error in professional bowling, so every shot has to be precisely calculated. Professional bowling should be deemed a proper sport and not just a game for fun by these factors.

The Darts Dispute

Darts has long undergone scrutiny for being recognised as a sport. Many who don’t follow darts believe it to be a pub game that doesn’t pose a physical exertion or challenge to those taking part. It was only officially recognised as a sport in 2005, a moment which caused uproar in the sporting world. The dart champion Phil Taylor came runner up as BBC Sports Personality of the Year. 

Surprising Activities That Are Not Considered Sports

It may come as a surprise or not that some of the following activities are not classed as proper sports. They all involve extreme competition and can be played in front of an audience and spectators. However, they fundamentally do not do enough to fulfil the sport title. All card games are not deemed as sports along with pool, despite its similar game snooker being a high profile cue sport. Activities that involve machinery such as motorsports and motocross are widely recognised by the world as sports. 

Highly competitive gaming has gathered pace over recent years too. However, it hasn’t yet managed to make the leap to an official sport despite people being able to earn a living from it and consider it a profession. There are a number of activities that can be caught between sport and hobby, for instance breakdancing and other dance sports. Whether an activity is deemed a sport or not, it does not make them any less enjoyable or challenging to those taking part. 

New Additions to the Olympics

The Olympics are one of the oldest sporting events in history. They allow different countries to play host to some of the most impressive athletes in the world and thousands of people make the journey to watch the events. One of the best parts of the Olympics is that they continue to evolve over time. The International Olympic Committee made the decision to make some new additions to the sporting categories for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. These sports included baseball, karate, sport climbing, skateboarding and surfing. This was a huge moment for these sports to be recognised at this level and this added a total of 474 new athletes to the games.