In our century, sport has become mostly defined as competitive physical activity.
The games may be casual or organized. I’ve played touch football that was closer to an Olympic match than a friendly encounter – casually organized but competitively executed (and I’m not so sure someone wasn’t out to execute me afterwards!). I’ve played a casual game of shinny and used a body check to down an opponent (I had to repent of being a bit too competitive).
I appreciate the inherited spirit of physical sports. A true sportsman (pardon the archaic language) was one who was a good sport – admitted defeat gracefully and accepted the winner’s laurels with humility. Sports did not define a person, a person defined the sport.
Celebrity sports has reversed that scenario. The reward has overtaken the pleasant pastime. The image of superiority has overtaken the reputation of fairness. The legacy of being a “sports idol” has overtaken the purposefulness of being an example, mentor and coach.
The science of sport has been with us over measured time. Observations of excellence in sports were passed down from generation to generation. Coaches have distilled the basics into formulas, and technological advances have allowed for dissection of the athlete’s actions into ever smaller portions.
The possibility of perfection in sports seems to come closer every day. With that vision comes the imminent possibility of loss! Loss of the fun of sports. Loss of social interaction outside the sports arena. Loss of a larger picture of life as a focus on the sport becomes a blinder. I’ve been intrigued by the latest sports’ phenomenon called Pokemon Go.
I’ve watched in wonder at the actual physical activity the video game has inspired in followers. Families out for a walk, teams exploring new territory in the real world, and heart pounding physical adventure. A bit of a breakaway from the usual video game fare.
The video gaming world has become the sport of a new generation. Gaming certainly fits the original definition of “sport” (coined more than a few centuries ago) – “a pleasant pastime,” or “anything humans find amusing or entertaining.” As sports continues to evolve, a return to the mind, and sports has captured this current generation.
But once again, the sport of gaming can be overtaken by celebrity and science. Gaming celebrities can downplay their opponents, not share their expertise and seek their own glory. The basement gamer becomes an island to themselves – learning more and more, and interacting less and less.
These negatives are not a foregone conclusion of the evolution of sports. I am proud to have friends whose character is reflected in a genuine delight for the sport, and an insistent desire to work with others in their gaming careers. I love to watch them seek out a friend on-line and in person. And they have a life – outside of video games.
Those who carry this balance will find that the sport does not define them, but they will define the sport.