The definition of a sport needs to be revised

Michael Barthelemy, Sports Captain

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Fourth quarter. Down by one. Game on the line. Immediately, you race up the court, weaving through what feels like an endless stream of defenders. As you see time quickly expiring, and huck up a desperation half-court shot. As time seems to move in slow motion, you see this miracle of a shot slowly fall through the hoop and go in! You’ve dreamed of this moment your entire life. You’re a national champion… in NBA 2K19.

For centuries, the ideology of a sport went undebated. Oxford Dictionary defines a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Nobody ever bothered to question this definition, because, why would they? Nothing existed to challenge that definition.

Though, as time progresses, we see more and more leagues formed that challenge the traditional definition of a sport. There’s the ESL (Electronic Sports League), the ACO (American Cornhole Organization), the PRO Chess League and so many more. We need to ditch the strict traditional meaning of a sport to account for this wave of new leagues.

The main argument against E-sports and these other new leagues is the obvious fact that there isn’t nearly as much ‘physical exertion.’ You won’t see many working up a sweat playing video games and the most substantial injuries you’ll see are arthritis or carpal tunnel. While these are valid arguments, the workout chess players and gamers gain benefit the brain. There is constant strategy involved, and so while there may be less of this ‘physical workout,’ the amount of mental preparation that athletes put in is substantial.

NASCAR is widely regarded as a mainstream sport, but where is the physical exertion? They sit in a seat for just as long as chess players do, and the only real sweat drivers have is from sitting in a hot car for hours on end. Really, the pit crew is getting a better workout.

Popularity isn’t an issue either, with leagues such as the ACO gaining a massive following over the past few years. On top of the live crowd at events, major networks such as ESPN, Fox Sports and Comcast Sportsnet have televised these unconventional sports, with hundreds of thousands tuning in. In fact, the 2017 Cornhole Championships had a larger viewing than the MLB that day, as well as the final day of the Tour De France.

Arguably the most glaring contradiction in sports is the fact that we give this title to NASCAR, but deny dance the same. Dance is not only incredibly strenuous physically, but mentally as well. Not to mention, dance draws a prevalent crowd, selling out theaters and getting substantial amounts of TV air time.

Obviously, there will be those sports purists who will insist that classifying something such as E-sports as a sport is complete and utter blasphemy. I’m not arguing that these leagues need to replace the NBA or the NFL, that’s simply an impossible task. I’m just saying that there is no reason why we should continue to scrutinize and insult these leagues for what they are. These leagues are fresh and fun, and a change of pace that quite frankly the sports world needs.