Are games sports?

Over on Frank Solanki’s poetry blog:

May The Test Match Win

he used the word “sport” to describe games being played between rival teams.

Now, the world over conflates the word “sport” with a game played with equipment (sticks, balls, gloves, etc.) on a field or court, constrained by rules and governed by referees.

In a jocular mood I penned, as a comment, the following limerick:

The players declared this was sport.
The team owners together claimed tort!
If there are rules and a ball,
And lined fields to fall,
It’s a game, the judged cried with a snort.

In my mind, games are NOT sports.


“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.” – Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway was an avid hunter and fisherman and no doubt would include those activities as sports.

But games? Maybe if you got rid of all the rules, put nails and barbwire on the bats and balls and PAID to play in fights to the death — then I might consider those sports.

Your thoughts?


19 thoughts on “Are games sports?

  1. You play games… such as playing cricket, or snooker. I don’t think one can play at fishing, but then perhaps it’s just the word itself that doesn’t fit. But all of these are sports. “Though it’s still debated, chess is officially recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee.” But then perhaps they would say that. If sports are only sports if one breaks a sweat, what of the computer we might play against? Is it sport for the human but not for the computer?

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    1. “Sports” has a complex history where many cultures have taken the word to mean what they wish. Sports used to mean leisure activity. But today apparently means practically anything; it’s lost its specificity. Hell, now-a-days sneezing might be considered a sport. Or competitive sleeping, eating or peeing. Sport-Pissing: the new bar craze. Drink up, boys!

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      1. Maybe the key word there is “competitive”. Sure, a game can be competitive but the intention/priority is fun/amusement. Cycling is a sport when one is competing with others (or perhaps against ones self), it’s merely a leisure activity if not… or potentially neither if it’s just a method of transportation.

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  2. Not to disagree with Hemingway but hunting will be a sport when the hunter goes out barehanded. And motorsports. I had a sales manager in my car one time raining all over NASCAR while I drove in Houston rush hour. “Do you get paid for this? No. Is it a sport? Hell no. Is your car half as safe? No. Sport my ass.” I tend to agree with him. Mountaineering? Yes. Crazy, sure. Bullfighting? Nah. Barehanded? Yeah. A game is a game. A sport? “Jolly good game, old sport.”
    The crazy flying suit people? Sport. Cliff diving? Maybe.

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    1. And then there are the Olympic Games – and Let the Games Begin! Few if any of those activities I’d consider “games”.
      Splitting Hares must be a sport — right? Splitting Hairs — a game of quibble.

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      1. You know dedication is a strange thing. I think it’s directly related to endorfins. But the Olynpic athletes are really only in competition with their own limitations. Like mountain climbers and flying squirrel suits. So that would be a sport? A game is like rules and shit? Because the endorfin rush ain’t there for popping hares with a .22, or splitting hairs, but to kick your own ass is a sport, regardless. Or even to kiss your Onassis like Jackie O. Or, as in Hollywood I wonder if blowing smoke up one’s own ass is considered sport? Well done, old sport!

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  3. “Maybe if you got rid of all the rules, put nails and barbwire on the bats and balls and PAID to play in fights to the death — then I might consider those sports.” If that were to happen, I would once again become a sports fanatic for the first time since the age of 14.

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