Luke Graham: Let's talk 'sports'


Luke Graham

Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or

Find more columns by Luke here.

Just the other day I got an e-mail from an old college friend who said he was taking up disc golf.

After telling him how ridiculous disc golf is, he wrote this:

"It's actually a sport that's growing worldwide."

A sport?

Disc golf isn't a sport. Throw anyone who thinks it is in the loony bin.

But what exactly is a sport?

Is golf a sport? How about bowling or NASCAR?

I've had this debate numerous times with people.

Webster's Dictionary defines sport as "an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, such as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc."

Sounds like a good definition, but I think mine's better.

I've always contended that for something to be a sport, you have to play defense and physical exertion is required.

Football's a sport. Baseball, basketball and hockey are all sports.

Golf, however, is not a sport, whether you're hitting a nine iron or throwing a Frisbee at a tree. It's a game.

Same goes with bowling, NASCAR, hunting and fishing.

According to my definition skiing and track and field wouldn't be sports either. For the sake of the debate I'll say they're not.

Skiers and track and field athletes may be some of the best athletes in the world, but like the Denver Nuggets, they don't play defense. (Maybe the Nuggets aren't a sports team either. Heck, maybe even the Phoenix Suns aren't with their lack of defense. It's possible we might have an NBA team win a championship and not subscribe to the Luke sport rule. What's happening to the sports - or unsports - world?)

Anyways, like the old saying goes, "defense wins championships, offense wins games."

Same thing applies with whether something is a sport or not.

In skiing and track and field people compete against each other but there's no defense. In chess, you play defense but you don't do anything athletic.

The happy medium in between is where sports sit.

One of my favorite Web Sites for the debate is They don't have the same definition as me, but the sports and non-sports are virtually the same.

Football, rugby and soccer are sports, while weightlifting, cheerleading and horse racing aren't.

I don't contend that I'm totally right. Really it's a rhetorical question.

But if you don't agree with me, feel free to let me know. Hit me up and tell me what really makes a sport.

Maybe you're answer will get me on the disc golf circuit.

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techdubb12 10 years, 1 month ago

Ah, the age old quest of defining sports. I feel like the given definition is a bit weak at spots. For example:

Does this mean a football quarterback, on an individual level, does not play a sport? If chess isn't a sport because an individual doesn't exhibit any physical exertion, how can a running back play a sport if they never exhibit defense.

Then there is the argument that sports, which only display offense, do so because they're up against a non-human defense. For example, in skiing, you are on the offensive against Mother Nature. So, the sport of skiing exhibits defense, but not from a human entity.

The same goes for golf, disc-golf, running and any other individual sport. Your offense is against fatigue, weather, vegetation and/or gravity. Against implies opposing force, i.e.: defense.

Back to chess. If physical exertion is a requirement, couldn't the process of thinking be boiled down to a physical act. Though 'thinking' and 'thought' are abstract, the physics behind it include electronic pulses being fired in the brain. This, technically, is a loss of energy, thus a physical exertion.

What it really comes down to is debates surrounding the definition of sports really take away from time spent with your sport of choice. Could I A) spend time with friends on the links, in the sunshine.... or B) hole myself up in a library, alone, trying to devise a bulletproof definition for "sports". Hmmmm....


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