Illegal Man Downfield: For the love of the sport, or activity

Dylan Stinson
Sports Columnist

Anyone who knows me well knows that I like to play the devil’s advocate when it comes to a good old-fashioned debate, especially when pertaining to sports.
However, I got myself into some trouble the other day when arguing with a female friend of mine about whether or not cheerleading was an actual sport.
Now, I’ll go ahead and give you my honest opinion so you cheerleading ladies who are reading this won’t punch your newspapers and curse my name. I actually think it’s a sport! But I wasn’t about to let my friend know that, because I care about her and wanted to sharpen her debating skills (she didn’t take it that way).
As the debate went on I decided to step my game up a bit and say things like, “How could you even consider cheerleading a sport? Lawnmower racing is more of a sport than cheerleading!”
This was all for her own good, of course. I mean, someone somewhere probably believes the hurtful phrases expressed. To my surprise (not really), my friend started to get very offended and let her emotions take control of her. In fact, she started yelling at me uncontrollably and was almost to the point of tears.
As I’ve stated, I was just trying to sharpen her debate skills, but out of fear for my life I calmed her anger by telling her my true thoughts on how (competitive) cheerleading and many other sports do not get the respect they deserve in the athletic world. In my humble opinion I believe for an “activity” to be a successful sport there must be three key factors.
1. There absolutely has to be competition.
Now, if you want to get all technical with me and look up the definition of “sport” on Merriam-Webester.com it will say something along the lines of “anything that amuses.”
Well, the people at Merriam-Webster need to move out of their mother’s basement, step back into reality and stop worrying about the Latin roots of words so dang much. Anyway, this was the point I kept trying to make to my cheerleading friend: If there’s no competition then it isn’t a sport, it’s simply an activity.
I really do think cheerleading at the competitive level is a sport but if there’s no competition it’s just kind of, well, pointless. I understand there’s a lot of hard work and effort that goes into a cheer squad, but if there isn’t any competition it’s simply an activity.
2. A sport has to involve some sort of training or skill.
I think this is where the majority of people start to lose it when someone is calling their beloved sport a fake. That has to hurt. I think about NASCAR drivers when thinking about this aspect of sport.             Many people would say NASCAR isn’t a sport and requires no skill. Are you serious? Have you ever driven 500 miles at 180 mph? Probably not, but one can imagine how mentally and physically exhausting that would be. You would have to train yourself to be a defensive driver, be able to maintain a high speed for hours at a time and be able to make quick decisions.
I almost get in a fender-bender in my Ford Taurus every time I make a trip to the grocery store. Give NASCAR drivers some respect.
3. A sport has to be exciting.
If there’s no excitement there wont be any fans, and for a sport to thrive, it must have fans.
I’ll put it more simply – for something to be a sport it must have a risk of death.
That sounds a bit dramatic, but it’s true.
Every sport we love is dangerous and involves life-threatening risk. All major sports have had numerous deaths occur in them throughout history. I would say this is what separates a sport from a “competitive activity.”
What’s a competitive activity you ask? Well,  a competitive activity is simply anything that doesn’t involve a high risk of injury or death. Chess and video games are a great example of competitive activities. Although fun and mentally straining, they’re also boring and uneventful.
Now to all you non-competitive cheerleaders, and video game enthusiasts out there I just want to say that I respect you. You know what, I probably respect you more than I respect real athletes.
Football, baseball and basketball players receive a lot of attention and praise for the work they put into their sport, and I’m sure you guys put the same, if not more, effort into your training, and no one cares.
That to me is true love for a sport. Oops, my bad, I meant competitive activity.
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