The 4 Classifications of “Sports”

Definition of sport (noun) defined by Webster’s Dictionary:

An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others.

That is a pretty lame, vague PC definition of a sport if you ask this guy right here (pointing to self).  It’s a definition that’s trying to appease the “athletes” out there who only became “athletes” because they grew up wealthy enough to be able to practice tennis, golf or snowboarding (can you tell at all that I’m just venting my jealousy?).  Please watch Tosh’s stand-up for more insight into this.


Come on dictionary! There’s a reason soccer is the world’s most popular sport; because all you need is a round object and human beings, and boom you have a game.  The poorest of the poor can compete with the richest of the rich every year because of the simplicity of that sport.

Anyways, the whole reasoning behind my 4 classification of sports is because I have been getting into many-a-arguments over the years of my life mainly about golf, because take a breath, are you ready……According to my definition of sport, golf is not a sport. Sorry, not a sport; at least not a Classification #1 sport.  Now when your lips are done gripping hard against your teeth and you take a deep breath, I will begin to explain the reasoning behind that, as well as tell you about the different classifications.

Although the Webster’s definition casts a wide net to all new breeds of hipster & preppy sports popping up (talking to you, Lacrosse), there’s no denying that most people can easily comprehend what sport takes physical exertion and which ones don’t. However that’s not the reason behind why I don’t consider golf a sport at all.  Here is my definition of a sport.

Definition of sport (noun) defined by Anthony Fanelli:

An activity involving physical exertion and physical skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others; whereas the physical skills or physical exertion displayed by these “others” have the ability to directly effect one’s physical game.*

*Author’s note: please do not confuse physical exertion and skill with actual athleticism, because that too is something completely different. If you need more understanding of that, please watch Olympic Legend Carl Lewis throw a ball worse than Scottie Smalls’ 1st attempt (very upset I couldn’t find a video of this).

In other words, what makes a sport a sport is the fact that the play of others determines what you do.  Friendly reminder, it doesn’t say you have to be athletic to take part in a sport (looking at you, Racecar drivers), or on the flip side you can be doing something athletic that isn’t a sport (looking at you, rock climbers).  This is also not about me feeling that one classification is harder, better, or whatever over another.  I respect, enjoy and am completely envious of the skill level, persistence and determination that the best of the best have in their respected classifications or sports, and each classification is very hard in its own respect.  This is not a ” this is better than that” piece, it is a “let’s try to be a little bit more in-depth about what is actually a sport” piece.

Classification #1: A Sport

It’s as easy as re-reading my crystal clear (and handsome) definition above.  In the list below, you can easily see that the physical skills or physical exertion displayed by the opponent(s) have the innate ability to directly affect one’s physical game. So here they are, in no specific order:

Classification #1

  •    Football                    
  •    Baseball    
  •    Basketball
  •    Soccer
  •    Volleyball                                                                 
  •    Tennis
  •    Lacrosse
  •    Wrestling – HS & college wrestling meets are awesome
  •    Hockey – a shame this sport is overlooked by the public
  •    Boxing/MMA – MMA is basically the new boxing
  •    Cricket
  •    Rugby
  •    Racecar Driving *
  •    Bike/BMX Riding*
  •    Marathon/Cross Country*
  •    Rowing **

*Classification(s) 1 & 2.

** Not too sure about Crew because my knowledge about rowing is limited to Bart in How High and the twins in The Social Network.

Now here’s when lines are going to start to get blurred.  Mainly because you will argue that physical exertion and physical skill take a huge part in the list (#2) below; and you are right! However, when what one person does, does not clearly affect what an opponent can do physically, like say someone throwing a ball at you and you having to catch it, I just can’t call you a Classification #1. Sorry just can’t.

Classification #2: Racing

These are races. It’s an individual race where other people in other lanes happen to be.  Yes I know people turn it on when there are others to compete against, yada yada, yada, but that’s all mental.

“Just run your race.” -every coach, ever.

  •    Sprints (any type of track event where lanes are maintained)
  •    Swimming (any type of swimming event where lanes are maintained)
  •    Racecar Driving*
  •    Biking/BMX (Here is a reminder of 1986’s BMX masterpiece)*
  •    Marathon/Cross Country*
  •    Rowing*

*These can all clearly be seen as mixed company with classification #1 and classification #2 because although they are races, lanes are not involved. Thus, leading to an opponent’s physicality directly affecting yours.

Classification #3: Individual Athletic Competition, Opinion

Now here we are; in some of the more awe-inspiring and finesse driven “sports.”  Ones where showmanship, and ultimately someone else’s opinion take a big part in it. To the naked eye, watching a short stocky, muscle-bound man come mere millimeters away from destroying his junk on the pommel horse, or a woman in razor blades attempting the death-defying Blades of Glory Iron Lotus move is rather awesome and something I could never do.  But again, there is no direct physical competition; and unfortunately, unhappy has-beens in the judge’s booth are the ones who determine the value of your performance.

  •    Gymnastics (1996 USA. Women’s Gymnastics. Greatest summer ever)
  •    Cheerleading (I still feel the East Compton Clovers were robbed)
  •    Snowboarding (Bro’ stuff)
  •    Random X-Game Stuff, or anything “trick” related
  •    Skateboarding
  •    Skiing (Bode Miller’s 1st name is Bode)
  •    Ice/Figure Skating
  •    Diving*
  •    Competitive Dancing
  •    Fitness/Figure Competitions

* you think anyone has ever purposely lost a diving competition strictly for the awesome pun?

Classification #4: Individual Skills Competition

Enough with the mind game, clutch gene (relax, Skip Bayless) or any type of activity where you are basically competing against yourself (where as competitor’s physical skill or exertion has no outcome or effect on what you are capable of doing) lies within this category.  “It’s you versus the field,” yes I’ve got that. I also understand there’s strategy among much more, but if the physicality and the skills involved in this game is solely on your own shoulders, then congrats, you are playing an Individual Skills Competition.  However, I do like the fact that there is an obvious winner in Classification #4 (dude, you shot a 64 and I shot a 65. You win.), as opposed to the confused endings that can be caused by #3’s opinions.

  •    Golf Golf
  •    Darts
  •    Pole Vault
  •    Discuss
  •    Archery
  •    Shooting
  •    Weight Lifting
  •    Bowling
  •    Javelin
  •    Shot Put
  •    Discus

OK, well there’s that.  I am sure I may have missed something (or a lot) here or there, so feel free to angrily tweet me about it.

Unrelated side note: I watched Birdemic for the 1st time a few nights ago. It was mind-blowing.

Post by Anthony Fanelli


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