But Seriously, Should Exercise Be Sport?

Should Exercise Be Sport?

PART II AND CONCLUSION

By
Coach Izzy

(The first part of this article is HERE. Do not proceed without having read it, or you might end up confused. If you have already done so, please proceed and enjoy!)

The hard truth is that attempting to oversimplify to come up with a catch-all, quick concept is a mistake. A bad habit fomented by our attention-deficit society, looking for instant gratification and for something they can happily vomit back without laborious thinking. In my opinion, this maims the essence of the concepts so much; they end up becoming something with little to no resemblance to their primal perception.

Remember, what I’m giving you is merely my opinion, but I can assure you it’s not haphazardly put together. I firmly believe that -since there is no established, universal definition of exercise or sport in exercise science- it is our duty to seek education and come up with conclusions that do not bear or reflect emotions. Did I say I like to do my own thinking, thank you very much?

Continuing with the topic, it’s time to explore the emotionally heated difference between exercise and sport, this grey area where motor patterns acquire a name or the other, but rarely both.

What makes an exercise just an exercise, and what turns it into a sport? Aren’t’ most sports, after all, the execution of predefined motor skills (or exercises) to match environmental constraints?

Take for instance, Olympic Weightlifting, Kettlebell lifting, high jump, long jump, sprints, etc., you get the idea. Without exception and without altering the motor patterns, they can be performed as exercises to improve a specific component, or they can be performed in competition to measure performance against an opponent. That is why I find it risible and self-contradicting when many individuals petulantly make the self-serving proclamation they do “real sports,” not just exercises. Did they forget those sports started as exercises?

What my experience has shown me – and what I presume being the main difference between exercise and sport- is that the difference has little to do with motor patterns, and more with intention and environment.

Let’s pick the increasingly popular Olympic Lifts. They have a specific motor pattern, dictated by an ideal path of least resistance. We know well that the Olympic Lifts are widely used in the exercise floor as “exercises” and they are also the main skill during weightlifting competitions.

What makes them different in those settings? The bar still follows the same path and the goal is to put it overhead.

The difference is that sport is measured by competition, and competition is an intention. The intention to beat an opponent. Some may argue that they are only competing against themselves, but competing against the self needs no sanctioned event. One could break records on the training floor, but I doubt this would be viewed as anything more than an intense exercise session. We can conclude that the exercise executed on the competition platform is not mechanically different from the one executed on the exercise floor, but it is the intention of competition and the environment what makes it a sport.

The same can be said of the other aforementioned skills. I reiterate that I believe it all boils down to intention and environment, and saying exercise should not be a sport is a specious argument.

And yes, it is my opinion. And yes, you are welcome to disagree, I do not care. If you are just repeating what someone else said, or you exclude intention and environment, I doubt your point is different from what’s being repeated ad-nauseam.

The next time you feel like condemning a group for preferring to just exercise for fitness, or condemning them because they turn exercises into competitive events, you should figure out beforehand why you are about to do so. Are you so full of your own pedantic kool-aid that you think you are above because you play “real” sports? Are you forgetting that your “sports” are nothing but sequential exercises? Or are you simply going to let somebody else do the thinking for you?

There are consequences for treating sports as a mean to fitness, but that is an entirely different topic reserved for another installment. I know you’ll enjoy it when I publish it. Until then, happy and safe training.

I’ll see you on the exercise floor.

Coach Izzy

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