Quick Takes

          I recently divorced AOL and married Cox.Net. As advertised earlier, my e-mail address is now sportsjunkie@cox.net. Keep ‘em comin’. 

          Sex, lies and videotape. It’s the San Francisco 49’ers. An in-house video meant to prepare 49’rs players for dealing with the media backfired after it was leaked to the S. F. Chronicle. The 15-minute film featured racist jokes, lesbian porn and topless blondes, and starred the team’s public relations director, Kirk Reynolds. It’s all true, believe it or not; I’m not fabricating a stitch of this. Oh, well, when you’re 2-14, what’s the difference?! The once-proud 49’ers are now a real clASS act, both on and off the field!

          The original The Longest Yard  of 1974 was a tremendous movie. The remake is in theaters now. It is an absolute bomb! Instead of paying to see the remake, rent the original. Doing the latter will be money spent far more intelligently.

          The first great big man of basketball, George Mikan, died last week. At 6’10”, he revolutionized basketball at DePaul and then in the NBA with the Minneapolis Lakers. His size was one thing, but he had the talent to go along with it. He was the NBA’s first true superstar, a pioneer of the league, to be sure, and his dominating presence forced the NBA to rewrite certain rules, much like it had to do later because of the presence of the great Wilt Chamberlain. For more on George Mikan, see my article dated 12-25-03. 

Story of the Week


          This could well be the most controversial article I’ve ever written on this website. It’s fitting because it’s milestone article #200, so I may as well pound the table with a table-pounding subject. Before I continue, I wish to thank my Sports Junkie readers who have followed my website down through the almost-four years of its existence. I appreciate it and the e-mails you send with regularity. And this article, I’m sure, will cause lots of responsive e-mails.

          What is a sport? For every person you ask, you will conceivably get a different answer, different in one sense or another.

The American Heritage Dictionary even offers contradictory answers to the definition of “sport.” It states as follows: An active pastime, diversion, recreation. A specific diversion usually requiring physical exercise and having a set form and body of rules. A game.

          Why did I state that my dictionary printed a rather contradictory definition of “sport?” Because there is a marked difference in my mind between sport and recreation, and notice how the dictionary even tossed in the word “usually” to cover it’s you-know-what. Also, note that there is no reference to “competition” whatsoever in the dictionary’s definition. I did struggle with that point, and finally elected to incorporate that element as being relevant to my definition of the word “sport.”

So how do I define the word “sport?” Sport is an active recreation or game that requires physical output and competition in the process. That, boys and girls, says it all!

          Now to pursue and bisect my definition. My favorite sports are baseball, football, basketball, hockey and boxing. I participated in three of them in league play for years. They are sports in the real sense because they are games that require the body to join the mind in their endeavor. If there is no physical output, then it is not a sport. And if the most grueling of physical activities does not include quantifiable competition, then it is not a sport but rather a recreation.

I play competitive poker, sometimes high stakes poker for lots of money. I play with some people who watch poker tournaments on ESPN, the premier sports channel, and firmly believe that poker is a sport. Well, it isn’t! If the only physical output in a game is tossing chips and cards around a table, then it is hardly a sport. Poker is a pastime, a diversion, a recreation, a game, and that’s all it is, despite the fact that it requires very prudent and powerful use of the mind. But a sport poker ain’t! The level of stakes doesn’t make poker a sport, even on ESPN. I won’t consider poker a sport until all players and the dealer are forced to run around the table at full speed after each and every dealt hand. Now that would be a sport worth watching.

I have a racing bike. I ride it with regularity in the Las Vegas area in which I live. Lots of physical exertion is necessary riding up and down the hills where I live, and I have to battle extreme heat several months a year in the process. Is it a sport? Of course not. Why? Because there is no quantifiable competition. My very demanding bicycle ride is purely a recreation, an exercise if you will, but not a sport. However, were I in a competitive venue, ala the Lance Armstrong variety, then my bicycling would most assuredly be a sport.

For years and until quite recently, I did not consider golf or bowling in the category of “sport.” Yes, they require some physical output, but damn little. However, I’ve recently reconsidered my position on same. Because they do require even some physical exertion, I now categorize them as sports, even though the “player” can be 5’8” tall, weigh 240 pounds, and be as athletic as the slowest of elephants on two legs. I was once related to such a person, and he contributed heavily to my feeling that golf could not possibly be considered a sport if he played it. But golf and bowling qualify, but barely.

A couple of subjects some friends and I debated recently were auto racing and horse racing. Do I consider them sports? The answer is no. They are mind-grueling for the respective drivers and riders, to be sure, but there is no physical output by these non-athletes. I consider those subjects recreations. The only athletes in horse racing are the horses.

How about wrestling and roller derby? Are they sports? High school and college wrestling are most assuredly sports. But by virtue of the fact that pro wrestling is choreographed, it therefore is nothing more than an exhibition, ala roller derby.   

I could go through an endless list of recreations, pastimes, etc. I could then label them as sport or non-sport. I don’t need to belabor the point here. Again, to summarize, if it’s an active recreation or game that requires physical output and incorporates a competitive scoring process,then it’s a sport.

          After writing this article today, my contractor, Dave Coil, and I discussed the subject. I then jokingly asked him if sex is a sport. Dave’s answer was, “Of course sex is a sport. You score, don’t you?!”  

Last Week’s Trivia

          Thanks to Lenny Adams for this one. Ken Johnson of Houston lost at home to Cincinnati, 1-0, after pitching a nine-inning complete-game no-hitter in 1964. In the top of the ninth, he gave up two walks, and two errors were committed behind him, the second of which allowed Pete Rose to score the only run of the game. (Remember, we’re talking nine innings only; Harvey Haddix doesn’t count here.)

Trivia Question of the Week

          In 1963, two future Hall of Fame pitchers were locked in a 16-inning scoreless duel until Willie Mays hit a home run to win the game, 1-0. Who were the two great pitchers involved? See next week’s Sports Junkie for the answer.