Gymastics and Diving are not Sports

Wednesday, August 20, 2008
After watching the Olympics the last few days, I can say without hesitation that neither Gymnastics or Diving are sports. They are great and entertaining competitions, but neither of them are sports. How can I say this.

I define a sport to be the following
  • There must a a physical activity involved which requires strength, speed, or endurance and which would quickly lead to exhaustion
  • There must be a competition between two or more individuals or teams
  • There must be a clear and OBJECTIVE winner
The last part is what dooms Gymastics and Diving as not a sport. It just is not objective enough. I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt this Olympics. I tried to believe that the judges used objective measures in order to deduct points from each of these events, but it simply is not true.

I watched as China's Fei Cheng landed on her knees and yet somehow ends up with a bronze medal. I don't know a lot about Gymnastics, but I know you shouldn't be able to land on your knees and still be considered one of the three best in the world.

I watched diving and saw one dive which recieved a 4.5 from one judge and a 8.0 from another. How objective can an event be when two people, supposedly looking at the exact same thing, come up with such radically different results?

To be fair, other sports have their subjective elements. Baseball has an umpire call balls and strikes, and basketball has refs who blow calls all the time (whether for money or just being plain blind). But this is not the main focus of the game. You winning or losing is not, in general, dependent on someone else's subjective call.

So sorry fans of Gymastics and Diving. I know you love your competition. I agree, it can be fun to watch. But it just isn't a sport.