Games and Sports

What is a Sport? and What Differentiates it From a Game?

Do you ever get that feeling that a lot of what you were learned in school was kinda pointless and you’d never actually apply it to anything in real life (and therefore it wasn’t really worth remembering)? I definitely did, and every now and then it comes back to bite me in the ass and suddenly I’m going “Crap! why can’t I remember that?! I know I learned this!”

So other week I was out for a few drinks with a friend and we ended up arguing over what makes something a sport, in particular why I considered Crossfit and Olympic Weightlifting ‘sports’ (I know, you don’t need to tell me, I talk about some pretty cool things at the bar….). They challenged my opinion and asked me to justify what it is that makes one activity a sport (e.g. Crossfit or Weightlifting) and another activity not (e.g pool) and I couldn’t. I had a rough idea (enough to keep me happy) but not enough to make a valid argument and defend it against someone who disagreed. Dammit, I took an entire course called “The Philosophical Aspects of Sport and Physical Activity” that was pretty much devoted to discussing exactly this; but apparently I did what many university students do….I memorized the course material long enough to do get a B+ in the course and promptly forgot it all.

So when I got home that night (yes after the bar) I took out my computer, sat on my bed and started looking for my old notes and reading up on the definition of sport.

What is A Game?

According to Bernard Suits in his Book ‘Games, LIfe and Utopia’

“A game is the voluntary agreement to overcome unnecessary obstacles” in order to achieve an arbitrary goal”

and Sports are a sub-category of games characterized by the fact that they are

“Games of vigorous/complex physical skill that have a wide an established following and are institutionalized” Suits

Excellent, I was now well armed with an impressive sounding definition should I ever need to impress anyone over drinks…A definition however, is pointless if I can’t explain it or back it up, so lets break it down.

According to Suits in order to be considered a game there are 4 crucial components that need to be present.

1. The Main “end-goal” or “state of being” that participants are striving to achieve and is described without going into any game-specific rules (a.ka. The Pre-lusory goal)

For Example

  • Playing Soccer – “Put the ball in the other team’s net more times than they put the ball in your net”

Checkout the full post on Coach Taryn’s blog: Go Hard Get Strong

Author: Taryn Haggerstone

Taryn is one of the lead coaches at Raincity Athletics. She regularly competes in both CrossFit and Olympic Weightlifting (at Regional and National levels) when she's not blogging, or helping our RAthletes Find their Fit. Checkout her full bio for more.

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