School team nicknames have many strange conventions, especially the taste for war and predation. A game isn’t a war, or a fight!
This was an off-hand comment in a blog post discussing something else, but a brilliant one.
It is easy to know that figure skating is not a sport and that biathlon is a sport. What is harder to know is why. The most common attempt at explanation is that real sports (like soccer or American football) do not involve judging. Which is kind of funny when you stop to think about it. OK, OK, subjective judging. But that doesn’t work either. The scoring in figure skating is no more subjective than the various tests used to make calls in American football. And what is more subjective than the decision of when to award a penalty kick in soccer?
The article I link above (under “most common attempt”) deals with this by saying that sports have, in principle, objective scoring. This seems, to me, narrow and silly as a distinction. It would make ski-jumping a sport and boxing not, for example—both ridiculous. Perhaps, non-sports are competitions which women and gays like more than do heterosexual men? Did I say that out loud?
O’Hare has, I think, put his finger on it though. A sport is either a combat simulation, a hunting simulation, or a competition on a physical skill of significant importance in hunting or combat—where, obviously, historical utility counts as much as does current. This works to put figure skating in the non-sport category and biathlon in the sport category. Swimming is a sport. Diving and synchronized swimming, not. Archery, running, javelin, and wrestling are sports. Riding skateboards, not so much. If the British Grenadiers had ridden skateboards into battle, can there be any doubt that riding skateboards would be a sport?
There are a few difficulties with O’Hare’s theory. Is baseball a sport? It does not appear to qualify. This is fine with me: it is routinely called a game instead. Gymnastics? How to apply the test? Strength, agility, and balance are certainly valuable hunting/combat skills. But gymnastics does not test these individually. It’s kind of a mash-up. And if you are going to allow mash-ups, then how do you keep out ballet or even, shudder, slopestyle snowboarding?
On the bright side, we get to exclude luge. Well, unless the British Grenadiers, unbeknownst to me, used to luge into battle. Perhaps, then, boxing and luge/ski-jumping are good test cases. If you think boxing but not luge/ski-jumping is a sport, then you join me as an O’Harite. If you think luge/ski-jumping but not boxing is a sport, then you are an objective scorist.
The last comment on the objective scorist article is another piece of true brilliance. He manages to come up with a complicated schema mentioning neither combat nor hunting which, nevertheless, selects combat simulations as Tier I sports, competitions on combat skills and hunting simulations as Tier II, and other activities as non-sports.
Who says Cultural Marxism is not productive of intellectual brilliance?