Real sports have specific characteristics
I have often asked myself, “Exactly what is a sport and what is not a sport?”
The definitions in the dictionary are nebulous at best, so I came up with my own definition. A sport must involve competition. There must be a winner and a loser. It has to be a physically demanding activity. A human being must be involved. Score must be kept and there must be standings and records.
My definition is bound to anger many, but it is a new year. Get ready for the letters to the editor, Maureen and Jeff. I am about to anger more than the Society for the Protection of Fairy Shrimp.
Chess, Jeopardy, checkers fantasy football are not sports. They are activities or contests. Chess is difficult. I am 0-1,217 lifetime in chess, but it is not a sport in my opinion. Ditto bridge, poker, Monopoly and Uno. I know that ESPN covers some of the previously mentioned, but there are only so many tractor pulls and strong men contests in a year.
Dog racing and what Michael Vick got convicted for are not sports. Horse racing is because a jockey is involved. The sport of kings and Bob Verhoest is a sport. Jockeys are athletes.
Some activities can be sports and recreational activities. Just riding a bike is not a sport. It is great exercise, but, unless there is a race involved, it is just recreation.
Running is not a sport unless it is in a race. A five-mile run is difficult. A 10K race is a sport. The same goes for swimming, weight lifting and golf. Golf is a sport when competition is involved. I have been told that when I am in a golf tournament that it ceases to be a sport.
Bullfighting is a sport. The bull and the matador can both lose. It is not exactly fair or politically correct, but a human is involved.
Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy fans will not like this, but hunting is not a sport. The deer, rabbit or bird can’t win. Sometimes bears and lions and tigers get a meal, but I don’t count that as winning.
My son-in-law Bryan recently asked me if I wanted to go sports fishing while we were in Hawaii. Since I am always looking for a way to write off my Hawaiian excursions and since I love the ocean and boat trips on the ocean, I agreed thinking that he would pick up the tab. I was wrong and sport fishing is misnamed.
My daughter Gina’s boss, Scott, and his son Austin also went with Bryan and me. The expedition was actually Scott’s idea, but the intent of this column is not to place blame.
We arrived at the dock in Lahaina with a cooler full of beverages and snacks. You can’t play a sport and drink libations at the same time (now I am going to hear from the slo-pitch players). After we paid our non-refundable, no guarantee of fish, and if you do catch a fish you have to pay us by the pound if you want to eat it contract, our first mate gave us a 15-minute speech after he set up six outriggers with bigger fishing poles than I have ever used in my life. I got excited. I was thinking ,”Man, those are big poles. We are going to catch some really big fish.” I was right about the poles.
The first mate gave us all a number and then told us what poles went with what number. The poles were placed in big pole holders. They already had lures attached to them for bait. The lures looked new or at least unused. I found out why.
The first mate told us that we could sit any place on the boat that we wanted, including the bridge. There was no need to hold the poles. As it turned out, there was no need for the poles. He said that if a fish took the bait on our pole we were to go to the big seat in the middle of the boat and he would give us the pole and put it in a hole in front of the seat. After we reeled in the fish, we would rotate numbers. Somebody asked him what happens if more than one pole has a fish at the same time. He said with a chuckle that he didn’t know. That has never happened.
The excursion was scheduled for four hours. We departed from Lahaina and went toward the island of Lanai. December is whale watching season. The channel between Maui and Lanai was full of whales. What started out as a fishing trip turned into a whale watching trip. Whales would jump out of the ocean. The first mate said that they were breaching, but it looked like they were jumping to me. They also would blow water out of the top of their heads. We also saw dolphins. I wanted to catch fish. I already have a season ticket to Sea World.
I am not sure, but I think the whales and dolphins were making fun of us. I don’t talk whale or dolphin talk, but I bet that they were saying. “Hey look at those tourists. They think that they are fishing and they aren’t even holding the poles.” “Maybe they think they are whaling without any harpoons!”
We were after big game fish: marlin, mahi mahi, and swordfish. Big game as in sports?
I went up on the bridge with Austin for about an hour to get a better look of the whales and dolphins. When I returned, the coolers were empty. Scott and Bryan got bored. Scott said that he thought that he was seasick because he felt dizzy. The sea was not the reason for Scott’s dizziness. The empty cooler was the culprit.
After four hours we returned empty handed to Lahaina and docked our boat. There was another batch of big game fishermen ready to go out on our boat. We went to a restaurant and on the wall there was a picture of Troy Aikman, the NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, next to a big swordfish hanging from a rope. I posed next to that picture.
Big game fishing is not a sport. With me on the boat the fish can’t lose.
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