For as long as I have walked on planet earth, the sport versus game debate regularly pops up. <a href="https://aeon.co/users/david-papineau" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">David Papineau</a> is the most recent entry into the ongoing debate - at least as it pertains to the Olympics.
While many activities are both games and sports – tennis and golf, for instance – there are also sports that aren’t games – skiing and surfing, say – and games that aren’t sports – snakes and ladders, or chess and bridge, for that matter.
Papineau suggests that to be classified a sport requires a physical exertion. And then to make his point, talks a lot about Chess and Bridge. I get it. But how much ‘physical exertion’?
- A Formula One Driver ?
- A Snooker / Pool Player ?
- A Darts Player ?
I have seen people define sport as being something that has a score associated. The refined with ‘immutable’ score – so excluding (say) ballroom dancing. (BTW, if you watch a real pro you will witness physical exertion.)
Personally, I like the definition that a friend of mine provided some years ago.
Any ‘game’ that can be played whilst smoking or drinking during the process is not a sport.
I like the definition, because it automatically removes ‘fishing’ and ‘bowling’, but in truth it really doesn’t work. Consider;
- I recall seeing a runner in Hyde Park a few years ago, cigarette in one hand, cell phone in the other. Is running no longer a sport ?
- Pretty much anything associated with Swimming is automatically a sport … trust me – it isn’t.