Game or Sport

In a previous entry where I discussed the “Gamer in Grease” episode of Bones, I had said that I wasn’t going to delve into what does and does not constitute a “sport” vs. a “game.”  Well, I had a conversation with a friend and I, or we, ended up pondering the matter.  Here it is:

Friend: I agree with Boreanaz’s character on the sport issue.
I dont think chess and video games and pool are sports. they’re games.
however, if they become commercialized – i.e. pool on ESPN they’ve entered “sport” territory…. did anyone discuss the commercialization aspect/
or maybe we should just go with the Olympic definition.  archery, sport. texas hold ’em, not a sport.

Me: there is a difference btwn poker and chess.  football is a game too. all team sports are games.  tennis isnt quite a game, though…archery isnt a game either.  fencing isnt a game…but it’s a sport.   i know! if you can’t do it for exercise too..then it’s not a sport. ^U^ and then youd get around the physical/mental exertion bit.

Friend: but you don’t do poker for exercise. and golf you just kind of walk around but that’s a sport.

Me: exactly.  b/c one can make the argument that poker is a sport
based on other descriptors of what a sport is, like why gaming can be….  skill, stamina, competitive activity governed by a set of rules, and even risk for injury,  going against an opponent…sure.  poker has all that. one could have a heart attack or a stroke while playing poker even if physical exertion isnt as much as it is in synchronized swimming.

everything that a person can do for exercise pretty much already is a sport or is less likely to be rejected as being a sport.  walking, running, jump-roping, dancing, biking, boxing…all the team sports that…and the solo sports
golf… requires physical exertion but does one golf for exercise..not quite
but at least with the “if you can exercise to it, it’s a sport, you only have a dozen on the footnotes list.

so it should be an inclusive…”if you can do it for exercise, it’s a sport”
“if you can win a prize, it’s a sport”
no wait…”if you can win a prize, it’s a competition”
are all competitive activities…now my brain is hurting.

Friend: poetry is not a sport, im still going with the physical activity thing. maybe im too traditional.  like poker and chess – they’re commercialized “sports” but in my mind they’re not sports

Me: poetry isnt done for exercise either.   can you think of something that is a sport but doesn’t involve the same kind of physical exertion, like fishing, that requires the same kind as in tennis or archery but not in knitting a sweater or playing cards?

Friend: fly fishing is a sport; sitting around fishing is a leisure activity.

Me:  one can say fishing is a sport if one is fishing against a clock.
Friend: like hiking

Me: mountain climbing can be a sport, if it’s done competitively
Friend: right. a sport is competition plus physical activity.
Me: not all athletic activities, physically demanding activities are done competitively.  that’s one catch. but when it is done competitively, then it’s a sport.


Can you come up with a sentence or two that you believe would sufficiently cover the activities you believe count and do not count as “sports” vs. “games”?

Just like the sentence, “If it gives off oxygen as a by-product, I’ll eat it; if it gives off carbon dioxide as a by-product, I won’t eat it,” effectively describes what a vegetarian that doesn’t eat seafood would eat (or not eat).

20 thoughts on “Game or Sport

  1. kevmoore

    Wow, my brain hurts after reading that one. Does overworking your brain constitute a sport? Not in this case. I wasn’t thinking competitively. I was thinking in my leisure time.

    I’m pretty sure you covered it in your last exchange. Physical exertion, in some form, coupled with competitiveness, defines a sport in my book. Oh, and Golf is pretty good exercise if you haven’t got some dude carrying your clubs around the course, and you forego the use of the little milk float electric cars to get around!

    1. sittingpugs Post author

      I frequently make people’s brains hurt…maybe the Dept. of Defense should use me as a consultant.

      “I can’t take the semantic over-stimulation anymore!!! I’ll tell you everything your gov’t wants to know!!!”


      1. kevmoore

        I’ve always been fascinated with the marriage of differrnt cultures, and can’t help imagining a brand new version of “She’s got game’ where American hip-hop meets the British aristocracy and a bunch of hooray henry’s dance around Prince Charles while he hugs himself in a hoodie and raps about Camilla bringing him the haul from the latest pheasant shoot….but perhaps my brain’s been overstimulated by the government!

    2. illumeateight

      Golf is good unless one’s spouse isn’t chasing one with a golf club. Ok, that will be my only Tiger Woods reference.

      1. sittingpugs Post author

        Golf is even better when there’s a handshake and the two people whose hands just shook now stand to make more money than the entire Sub-Saharan continent would see in fifty years.

  2. Thomas Stazyk

    Ouch, it’s even worse. What is the difference between sport fishing and game hunting? (I’d insert a smiley face here if I knew how to)

    The only thing I can add is that ‘sport’ is a much more versatile word than ‘game.’ As in, “They sported on the couch while watching the sports channel and the room mate was a good sport and left the room. Afterwards, she left, sporting a sporty new winter coat. They agreed to meet later at a sports bar.”

  3. sittingpugs Post author

    Game hunting…I would call that a leisure activity, despite the stamina and risk of injury involved. As unsympathetic a venture as bull-fighting is in my opinion, I would consider it more of a sport than game hunting. Bull-riding and that whole melange of derby activity are more athletically inclined as well.

    I like your additional point regarding “sport” as various parts of speech, Thomas. If I were to give “game” a similar treatment, I could only get as far as….

    Meredith packed a bag of travel-sized board games for the road trip in order to keep herself occupied so as to not look out the window at monstrously large game birds that were game whenever it meant gaming the monstrously large bears.

    The wikipedia page for “game” has “sports” listed as a type.

    1. Thomas Stazyk

      The only thing I would add to the story about Meredith is ” . . . although she had been game to the idea of some casual flirtations with fellow passengers on the trip, but she found that the gentleman in the seat opposite had a rather gamey odor.” (I assume she’s on a train).

      1. sittingpugs Post author


        Like that guy who goes around the world eating all sorts of things. I think “gamey” was the fifth word out of his mouth whenever he ate meat.

        1. Thomas Stazyk

          Apologies! I spelled it wrong–it should be ‘gamy’ which appears to be a wonderfully versatile word. My dictionary says: 1. brave, plucky-used esp. of animals; 2. having the flavor of game near tainting, 3. smelly; 4, scandalous, spicy, corrupt.

          I like ‘flavor of game near tainting.’ I think that means rotten!

          1. sittingpugs Post author

            Scandalous, spicy, corrupt.

            “The new year started off rather gamy for The Daily Planet as Clark Kent and Lois Lane were caught on audio tape not washing their hands after using the lavatory.”

          2. Thomas Stazyk

            Clark Kent put on a gamy front as he claimed that it was Jimmy Olson, not he, from whence the gamy odor emanated; while Perry White demanded that all gamy behavior stop at once.

  4. kevmoore

    Yes, but is hearing somebody not wash their hands is admissible in court? If I was a prosecutor, I’d have to wash my hands of the whole affair, and palm it off on somebody else. You’ve got to hand it to them, it’s up to someone else to point the finger. etc, etc….. 😉


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