Thursday, April 10, 2014

Start of The Masters Renews My Question: Is Golf a Sport?

With The Masters golf tournament kicking off the professional golf "season" this week down in Augusta, Georgia I am once again pondering the question...

Is golf a sport?

I fully understand that most people and the media consider it so, but I wonder why.

Don't get me wrong, golf is REALLY difficult. I know I stink at it. It takes a lot of practice to be even decent at golf, let alone good to great. None the less, I'd suggest it's a game rather than a sport.

Think about it. Unlike unquestioned sports like basketball, football, soccer, baseball, hockey, tennis; in golf no athletic ability nor movement are required. Sure, some golfers are athletic...but it's not necessary by any means to play or be great.

Here is what I mean: In order to play golf, the most physically challenging things you have to do are: 1) swing a club at the tee and one or twice on the green...and while that is a physical movement, it's a finesse move more in line with casting a fishing line or throwing a Frisbee at a target, and 2) walk....unless you're using a cart, in which case don't even do that. So how exactly are golfers performing athletic movements?

Meanwhile, in traditional sports there is massive physical output and the ability to make sudden and agile movements required. Aggressive, sustained athletic exertion is a necessary part of participating those type of sports.

So why even bother thinking about this? Well...I guess for me it's the idea that loads of people say they are playing a "sport" when they are golfing when in fact they are playing a poker, billiards or Monopoly. That is a false sense of ability and an overstatement of what they're doing. Our society puts a lot of value on golf "as a sport" and those who play it are usually thought of as "athletes." As someone who regularly runs, bikes and lifts weights it just annoys me that out of shape guys who smoke, drink and ride around in a cart while playing golf are considered athletes or are participating in a sport.

Hey, is playing golf better than sitting on your ass in front of a TV? You bet. Is it really difficult to learn and play well? For sure. Is it the same as going out and playing basketball, football, soccer or tennis? No...not even close.

You want to play a sport? How about taking a run? Pickup basketball? Bike ride? Flag football? Now you're talking. Golf? No, more like riding around in a car and stepping out 18 times to swing your arms.

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