The debate on which sport is “hardest” is stupid

Michael Barthelemy, Sports Editor

We’ve all heard it. Whether it be in class, at the lunch table or in the locker room, everyone has taken part in the age-old debate: which sport is truly the most difficult? Everyone has an opinion, backing their own sport as the hardest, making this argument truly endless. 

Quickly these arguments can escalate, causing division and rivalry between athletes. Seeing this claim, many of you probably already are jumping against me saying, “there is an answer to this debate, and my sport is the answer.” This ignorant attitude is what has created this conflict in the first place. Looking at the athletic world, no sport is easier than the next; each just poses different difficulties.  For this reason, this pointless argument needs to end, because there is no true answer. 

Take the example of football versus golf. While football may be extremely physically demanding and require excessive strength and power, this is just one facet of what makes a sport difficult. In golf, the prominence of mental strength and precision does not compare to football. 

Each sport provides new and different challenges. For athletes used to taking part in team sports, the mental side of the game may not be as imperative. You have your teammates to back you up, so you are less often trapped in your own thoughts. For sports based on individual performance, such as golf, this increased isolation results in an emphasis towards a focused mindset, because you don’t have the same resources to keep you on point. 

What has really driven the argument towards which sport is hardest to play is the common belief that one could walk onto the team and instantly perform. In reality, this is a myth. No matter how simple a sport may appear on the outside, athletes put in hours of hard work and training to get to their level.

“I think that because [sports like cross country] do not require coordination or a lot of brute strength, people assume that the training is less intense,” senior cross-country runner Eavan Norman said. “But the mental strength and endurance that it takes to get through a hard workout is not easy to obtain.”

I understand that this argument is typically viewed as a friendly one that exists within friend groups, but I have witnessed countless times in which this debate turned from a simple, evidence-lacking debate, into becoming a string of personal attacks on one’s physical skills and social stature. This seemingly meaningless sparring has squashed friendships and turned people to tears for lack of quality reason. 

Instead, we should cut the debate and respect everyone’s athletic ventures. The title of “athlete” should not be something that people fear being taken away from them because they don’t play the most popular sport.

Is proving that soccer is superior in challenge to baseball worth potentially fracturing a relationship? Giving yourself a pyrrhic victory is focusing on the battles and losing the war.