Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sports, Games & Exercise.

Dear students,

One of the great failings of the Yes! Maturita book is how poorly it explains these three related, but different things. You need to memorize these simple definitions:

1. A game is a friendly competition for fun, and sometimes money, involving rules, luck, strategy, and various skills. There are many different kinds of games: card games, board games, video games, children's games, drinking games, sports, etc.

2. A sport is commonly considered any game that focuses on physical abilities, such as strength (sila), speed (rýchlosť), stamina (výdrž), dexterity (obratnosť), and aim (zámer). In sports, strategy is emphasized (zvýraznený) while luck is minimized, with only an occasional coin toss. The idea is that the winning player or team must be stronger and more highly skilled than the competition.

Some motorized races, such as NASCAR, Formula 1, and motorbike racing are considered sports because of the level of danger involved. The idea is that, if the level of danger and recklessness can compensate for the lack of physical strength, etc, it's still a sport. And horse racing is a sport where the real athletes are the horses.

There is some debate as to whether some games are "sports". It's a status issue, because calling it a sport sounds more impressive. In general, any game that doesn't require intense physical training is not considered a sport, which is why bowling, snooker, and chess aren't included in the Olympics.

People are sometimes confused about chess because of the Chess Olympiad, a yearly competition organized by a completely different organization, having nothing to do with the summer or winter Olympic Games. And, before you use the Olympics to define what is or isn't a sport, remember they used to have Olympic art competitions too. Is art a sport?

Sometimes you'll hear someone say that -x- isn't a sport because it's not their favorite. Maybe it's not popular or shown on TV. These opinions aren't true, and mostly based on machismo, but they can be funny. Here's George Carlin for example:

"Soccer is not a sport because you can’t use your arms. Anything where you can’t use your arms can’t be a sport. Tap dancing isn’t a sport. I rest my case."

3. Not every form of physical activity or recreation is a sport. A sport is a game, so it requires rules, a winner, and a loser. If there's no winner and loser, it's not a sport. It's exercise. Exercise is what people do to become strong and healthy. Some people do it to relax and unwind. Some do it to look more attractive. Some do it because their doctor told them they should.

Is running a sport? It can be. It all depends. If I go running by myself in the morning before work, that's not a sport. That's exercise. If I run in a race, then it's a sport. If I'm a criminal running from a policeman, I suppose it's a kind of sport, depending on how you define "winning" and "losing", but it's not an official sport. It is entertaining for spectators, though.

Is cycling a sport? It can be. It all depends. If I ride my bicycle to work, that's not a sport, that's transportation. If I ride it for a day out in the country, that's both recreation and exercise. If I ride it in a race, like the Tour de France, then it's a sport.

Is swimming a sport? It can be. It all depends. If I swim around Mlynky Dedinky with my friends it's not. That's just recreation. If I swim laps at the pool, trying to go as fast as I can, that's exercise, and maybe training, if I plan to enter a race. If I swim in a race (called a swim meet) then it's a sport.

Is aerobics a sport? Not usually, but it can be. There are aerobics competitions, as well as bodybuilding competitions. It all has to do with competition. And, hiking is not a sport. Hiking is just walking wherever it's okay to pee. Drink enough, and you can go hiking anywhere. I see people hiking downtown all the time. Orienteering can be a sport (that's finding your way in the woods with a compass). People organize competitions for orienteering.

P.S. I almost forgot! In Slovak, when you say atletika, you're referring to a set of races and competitions that we typically call Track and Field in English. In English an athlete isn't only someone who plays track and field. An athlete is anyone who plays any sport. So, if you exercise, you're strong, and you're skilled in one sport, you're an athlete.

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