Saturday, August 08, 2015

Sport, or Game

Years ago, I read a quote by Ernest Hemingway, where he said that:

Whether that quote is accurate, or apocryphal, is subject to wide interpretation.  Whoever said it, I think that what they were referring to, is that in bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering there is a better than average chance of personal injury or death.  Certainly motor racing has become more safe since Hemingway lived, but it still claims its share of victims.

Of course, the English language has changed some since the early half of the 20th Century, but words still mean things.  And, I prefer the imagery of a sport requiring, if not blood, then the very real possibility of blood.

I'd occasionally get into debates when I worked in the high school, because I ate lunch with the coaches, and when they were talking about sports, I'd drag out the Hemingway quote and ask what sports they were talking a bout?  Football?  It's a game.  Basketball?  That's a game too, and more particularly, a girls game.  If girls play it, it's a girl's game.  Invariably, one of the coaches would ask about baseball, and I'd tell them that baseball is a past-time, in fact, the national past time and it is a mens game.  Softball, of course, uses different equipment, different rules and a different field entirely.

Invariably the soccer coach would get his feelings hurt.  Too bad, so sad.  Soccer is purely a girls game.  I don't know why the bother to separate it into genders.  Same equipment, same field, same rules.  It's a girls game, shot through to the core.

I bring all this up because I'm working through some things in my own mind.  There are bound to be differences between sport and recreation, or between sport and a game.  We're well advised to keep our minds ordered and our language precise.


Termite said...

Collegiate soccer in the USA is indeed primarily a women's game.

In the rest of the world, it is primarily a men's game, both collegiate and professional.
While Americans often look down at soccer, professional soccer players are amazingly skilled athletes.
And they are in fantastic cardio-vascular shape. You never see a fat pro soccer player.

Anonymous said...

Hemingway forgot boxing and amateur wrestling as well as the martial arts. These are as close to individual combat as you can get today.

6ShotsOr5? said...

Modern American football is a game. Football used to be a sport when they had leather helmets. My high school math teacher played lineman for the Chicago Bears back in the 1930's, and that guy's mug looked more like a hamburger than a face. I can only assume that he was handsome before! Men's rugby is a sport I think. If women play rugby, it's probably nothing like the way the men do it. People don't get their nose bent halfway around their face or their ear bitten off playing a game. Modern baseball is a game most of the time. Back before batters started wearing arm guards it was more of a sport. When baseball players were angry with each other, they usually met up after the game at some bar to work things out the old fashioned way. When Robin Ventura charged Nolan Ryan, things got a little sporting. Nolan landed a few blows to the face along with about 5 or six to the top of the head. When is the last time somebody actually got hurt in a baseball or football fight?

Old NFO said...

You're right. :-) And I imagine the coaches aren't real happy when you trot that out...LOL

DoninSacto said...

Soccer is neither a sport or a game. It's just excercise. If you don't use your hands how can it be a game or a sport?

jon spencer said...

If you personally are a participant it is a sport, others activities are games.

Retired Spook said...

Had an instructor at Ft. Bragg who said "If it's got rules, it's not a fight, it's a game. Games have rules, fights have winners and losers." Lotta truth in that.