How to Define Sports

When one thinks about sports in general, the ones that most often come to mind are football, basketball, and baseball. The next most common, at least in the United States to name just a few are soccer, lacrosse, golf, volleyball, tennis, and hockey. But then what makes something a sport?

Earlier in the semester we talked about the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show that was shown on several major TV networks including CNBC and USA networks. The New York Times provided written coverage on the results in the sports section. There are 39 different categories for summer Olympic sports in the summer and 15 different categories for the Winter Olympics.

According to a blog post on, Cameron Hager defines a sport as: “A sport is more of strategy and mental usage than physical exertion. Some may disagree but look at every sport – there is a strategy and mental usage. A sport is defined as however you use strategy and use your brain but maybe necessary with some physical exertion and definitely skills and talent.”

In recent years, cheerleading has been up for debate whether or not it is a real sport. According to a Washington Post article published June 2014, the American Medical Association believes that it is. Contrary to this, in 2012, a federal appeals court still held that cheerleading is not a real sport. The NCAA still has not defined cheerleading as a sport.

Many of my friends in high school were cheerleaders in the fall. At one point in middle school, I was even a cheerleader. Will cheerleading ever be classified as a sport? With the ever-changing definition of sports, it’s quite possible.


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