I could have sworn I had written about this in the past, but I can’t find a post about it so I’m going to put my thoughts to paper (er…screen) yet again.
There is a reason the Olympic Games are called Games. Because they are not all sports. I will define myself here.
A ‘sport’ is a contest in which two or more contestants compete in an activity which can be quantifiably measured as to who the winner is. Sports can be further defined as being athletic contests of some sort because I don’t want some ninny telling me that their chosen sport is Monopoly or Backgammon.
A ‘game’ is an activity in which the outcome is determined by a subjective measurement or in which a subjective measurement has a role in determining the outcome.
I need to clarify these definitions because the Olympics have officially started and the next few weeks will be filled with discussions about how great this athlete is and that athlete is. I don’t want to nullify the athleticism of those people participating in ‘games’ vs. ‘sports’. It’s very very hard to be a gymnast and gymnasts are generally in the best shape of any of the athletes in the Olympics.
But gymnastics is not a sport. Sorry, it isn’t. Standing on my head and singing opera is really really hard too. But that still doesn’t make it a sport. If a judge has to determine the artistry of my singing, it’s a game. End of story.
So, for the benefit of our viewing public, here is a list of games and sports being contested at this year’s Olympics.
A handy guide:
Diving – Execution and *difficulty* are part of the scoring system
Equestrian – While jumping might almost be considered a sport, this becomes a game when Dressage is involved, which gets points for the “movement of the horse” among other subjective categories.
Gymnastics – Extremely subjective in execution and difficulty
Rhythmic Gymnastics – Same as Gymnastics
Synchronized Swimming – Execution and difficulty.
Trampoline – Are you F*ing kidding me? Are we just including activities because they’re pretty to look at? Why not put in Fireworks as a medal event?!?
Archery – Completely objective
Badminton – Completely objective
Baseball – Completely objective
Basketball - IBID
Beach Volleyball - IBID
Boxing – This is a tricky one. Judges are supposed to score points in Olympic boxing based on whether a clean blow has landed on the face or body. It’s sometimes hard to see whether a blow has landed cleanly so the judges tend to score differently, making it seem subjective. But if a camera was placed at every angle and the fight reviewed on tape for hours, a ‘clean’ and objective score can be obtained. This is my big compromise. If a referee or judges are involved, but they can theoretically be overridden by cameras and a strict application of rules, it’s still a sport.
Canoe/Kayak - Objective
Cycling - Objective
Fencing – Same deal as boxing. There is a referee to determine rules such as ‘right of way’ but they could, theoretically, be determined by a video camera.
Field Hockey - Objective
Handball - Objective
Judo – This and Taekwondo are interesting cases. I haven’t read the rules so I assume there’s an objective scoring system but I may be wrong. I’ll put it into Sports for now until I’m proven wrong.
Modern Pentathlon - Objective
Rowing - Objective
Sailing – Same as Judo. I don’t know whether points are given for things like crew efficiency or some other such nonsense or if it’s strictly who crosses the finish line first. I’ll assume the latter for now.
Shooting - Objective
Soccer - Objective
Softball - Objective
Swimming - Objective
Table Tennis - Objective
Taekwondo – Same as Judo
Tennis - Objective
Track and Field - Objective
Triathlon - Objective
Volleyball - Objective
Water Polo - Objective
Weightlifting - Objective
Wrestling – Objective
I personally think the Olympics would be better served by sticking to sports and not having games in them. It would make for less messy drama because the chances of someone being awarded a medal contentiously would be lowered. But if they DO stick with a mixture of games and sports, then for god’s sake why isn’t there a medal for modeling? Or Fashion Design? Or Singing?
New thought: Reality show Olympics.