There’s an age-old argument over whether certain activities that we watch and/or participate in are in fact actual sports. It’s time to settle these debates once and for all. My criteria is not readily definable but I know a real sport when I see one.
BOWLING: Not a real sport. Any activity that you do better after your fifth beer cannot be considered such.
FOOTBALL: Yes, football is most definitely a real sport right up until that day around the year 2033 that it is banned for good.
GOLF: It can be a real sport or not depending on who’s playing it. However I may be biased since I caddied for four years as a kid and we were required - at the seventh and fifteenth tees - to ask our golfers, “Can I wash your balls?” For most of those duffers with their clean balls golf is not a real sport. At the PGA level when a competitor with nerves of steel sinks a 30-foot putt to win the U.S. Open it is most definitely a real sport even though many of the personalities in pro golf are so dull they’re basically Ambien pills in white shoes.
WIFE CARRYING: This real “sport of kings” that involves toting a full grown woman 100 yards on your back is among the most difficult feats in the world and its U.S. champions deserve to visit the White House although that seems unlikely.
SOCCER: Soccer at the highest level is a real sport even though the best conditioned guy in the stadium is the one screaming “GOAAAAAAAAAAAAL!” Children’s soccer featuring confused kids kicking a ball into the wrong goal while the goalie is preoccupied with eating his own boogers is not a real sport.
CORNHOLE: Not a real sport. Tossing a beanbag sack through a little hole for what seems like a month but is probably closer to an hour is an activity more appropriate for the remotest Bowels of Hell than ESPN, assuming those two are not the same thing.
AUTO RACING: Whether you’re talking Indy style racing or NASCAR, yes, this is a real sport and those behind the wheel possess athletic ability, coordination and stamina. However, it’s not as much of a real sport as working on the pit crew. Changing four tires in 12 seconds is particularly impressive to this writer who usually takes an hour just to free the jack from the trunk.
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL: A real sport, but, if the game gets any slower I may rescind that designation. The way it could get slower is if MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred introduces a rule allowing tortoises to be used as pinch runners. This could easily happen.
SLOW PITCH SOFTBALL: I’m going with real sport. But the first time I see a young hitter utilizing the time between when the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand and when it arrives at home plate to update his or her Snapchat status I’m changing that to not a real sport in a hurry.
BILLIARDS: Considering that many of the top competitors strongly resemble mall cops, it is not a real sport.
BASKETBALL: Yes, it’s a real sport except when it’s played by the Phoenix Suns then it is not a real sport.
SWIMMING: Competitive swimming at a high level is most definitely a real sport. The best swimmers must consume something like 10,000 calories per day due to all of the energy burned. For comparison sake, the average American in 2019 only consumes 9,800 calories.
TENNIS: A real sport that requires an enormous amount of hand-eye coordination and an ability to grunt extremely loud.
CHEERLEADING: Yes, considering that cheerleaders suffer almost as many injuries per year as high school football players, I’m going with real sport. But if I use odds of injury as a deciding factor then is running with scissors also a real sport?
RUNNING WITH SCISSORS: Real sport.
FISHING: Yes, it’s a real sport. I’m kidding! If fishing is a real sport then I’d have to include flossing, putting on your socks, farting and ordering at a drive-thru.
BOXING: Yes, a real sport involving strength, stamina and smarts. In marked contrast with...
UFC: UFC is not so much of a sport as it is a street mugging. I consider it human cock fighting. By the way, actual cock fighting is also not a real sport even though I understand the Southeastern Conference is considering sanctioning it.
POKER: Real sports are not contested by guys in hoodies named “Alabama” surrounded by a thick layer of cigarette smoke. And what’s the deal with all the sunglasses? I have a recurring dream that while performing in Vegas Stevie Wonder is mistakenly steered into a chair at the WSOP.
PROFESSIONAL EATING: Before last July 4th I’d have said no way. But after watching Joey Chestnut scarf down 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes and, even more impressively, KEEP THEM DOWN I pronounce pro eating a real sport. I do this grudgingly since a Coney Island competitor was approximately 112 years old and I’m pretty sure several others couldn’t do one pull up.
FIGURE SKATING: This is the only real sport where men compete in lavender and magenta sequined jump suits that look as if they were purchased at the Freddie Mercury estate sale. It’s the only real sport where you hear male commentators say of male competitors, “I love how he works his butt during that jump.” It’s the only real sport that has a designated “cry area” with the exception of Atlanta Falcons football and New York Mets baseball.
SPELLING BEES: Participating in the Scripps National Spelling Bee is not a real sport even though it airs on ESPN. This applies even to kids who correctly spell “scherenschnitte.” Actually, it applies especially to kids who correctly spell “scherenschnitte.” Also most spelling bee contestants look like they haven’t seen the sun since they were four. I’m pretty sure if you gently rolled any type of ball towards them two-thirds would run for cover.
RUGBY: Rugby players may be the toughest of all athletes considering that it’s legal to behead the guy running with the ball and then run away with the head as the opponents pursue you. Real sport.
CURLING: Less of a real sport than micro-waving leftover burritos.
TWO-MAN LUGE: A combination real sport/dating app.
BEACH VOLLEYBALL: The only real sport contested in pasties and G-strings.
E-SPORTS: NO! I don’t care that an estimated 250 million people around the world watch and/or participate. I don’t care how hard the gaming industry pushes eSports. They are not, nor will they ever be, real sports. I’d have more respect for you if you pushed Old Maid as a sport.
PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING: Yes, pro wrestling is a real sport. You try getting hit over the head with a folding chair while The Miz attempts to rip your leg off and then have a 350-pound human leap off the top turnbuckle onto your prone body and tell me that’s not a sport. Many wrestlers, the Brock Lesnars and the Ric Flairs, have been incredibly athletic and even the ones that aren’t so athletic, the Dusty Rhodes and the Bastian Boogers, sure seem strong. Pro wrestlers stay in good shape since not only do they regularly get the crap beaten out of them by their arch-rival for half an hour but then typically must possess the stamina to meet that same arch-rival for drinks later that night.