I’m watching the live stream of the 2013 PGA Championship, that’s golf for all you non-golf fans, and they are having a vigorous discussion about that very topic.
The Wiki article is pretty broad and comes to no conclusions on the matter.
It’s an interesting question and there is a lot of debate about physicality, the presence or absence of certain pieces of equipment, the method of winning, and other factors. I first thought about this years ago and came up with a definition that I find works quite well for me.
Let me cover one of the main ideas before offering my own solution. A lot of people claim there must be a physically demanding aspect to the endeavor for it to be a sport. Thus baseball is a sport but chess is a game.
My problem with this definition is that baseball is unilaterally ruled a sport. When a dozen kids play a pickup game in the park, like that happens anymore, then it is sport. I disagree. That’s a game of baseball. When major league players vie on the field of play, I consider that a sport.
I think two requirements must be met for it to be a sport.
- There is a paying audience
- There is a quantifiable winner.
There are three possible permutations of those rules which result in Sport, Game, and Spectacle.
- There is a paying audience but no quantifiable winner – Example: Opera. Category: Spectacle
- There is a paying audience and a quantifiable winner – Example: Major League Baseball: Sport
- There is no paying audience but a quantifiable winner – Example: Kids playing baseball in the park: Game
Thus I think golf can be a game or sport depending on the circumstances surrounding the event. The paying crowd at the PGA Championship along with the fact that a winner is determined by quantifiable methods make it a sport. When the guys and I head to Ruth Park for a quick nine after a day of work, it’s a game.
This is a relatively broad definition and makes the upcoming World Chess Championship a sport even though there is a lack of physicality to chess.
That being said, I’m happy with my definition.
Tell me where I went wrong!
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