Monday, October 29, 2012

Is fishing a sport? Really?

LAKE ORION, MI - JULY 12: Corey Pavin watches ...
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
I like getting out in my boat and hitting the lake. In fact, it's one of my favorite things to do in the summer (or any time for that matter - I love my Evinrude and my boat!). I've never been an avid fisherman, either, but I do enjoy tossing in a line and seeing what I can manage to retrieve from the depths...

That said, I've been having all kinds of conversations recently with a couple of good friends of mine, who also happen to be rabid sports fans. We got to discussing the difference between activities and sports. At least, that was my argument. For me, when I think of a sport I think of some truly amazing physical attributes to be excellent at it.

Things that I immediately think of when I think of real sports:

1. Football
2. Basketball
3. Combat sports (boxing, MMA)
4. Hockey
5. Baseball

My friends are of the persuasion that these following endeavors also qualify as sports:

2. Golf
3. Fishing
4. Bowling
5. Darts

I get pretty animated in this discussion because I truly can't equate one list with the other. While I don't disregard the skill it takes to be good at the second list (which I refer to as "activities"), they simply don't require the athleticism to be a sport in my mind. With the possible exception of baseball, you need to be an amazing athlete with incredible physical talents in terms of agility, strength and hand eye coordination to even have a chance to be elite at any of the items on the first list. Think about that, there are physical requirements just to have a chance to be good.

While there certainly are benefits to being able to hit a golf ball farther by being strong and flexible, you can also be a player like Tom Kite or Corey Pavin who can just play consistent golf by perfecting what they can do with a limited physical skill set. There are no slow, weak linebackers in the NFL who just practiced football to the point of being a world class elite player.

To put it another way, what are the chances you could have athletes from each list swap their training for a year to play in a sport from the opposite side. If you had to bet all of your money on an NBA player being able to compete in a NASCAR race after a year of training or a NASCAR driver trying to compete in an NBA game after a year of training? Seriously? Compare any combination on that list and tell me what you think. Again, there's the common perception that baseball may be the weakest sport, but do you think a professional bowler will suddenly be able to hit an 87mph slider or would you be able to teach CC Sabathia to throw a bowling strike consistently?

There are games of skill...or activities, and there are sports. I think there's a huge difference. I'm not an athlete, but I'll be out fishing again next year.