Is it a Sport?


AP Images

Magnus Carlsen, Norway’s World Chess Champion, competes in the 44th Chess Olympiad.

Maddox Karnes, Arts and Entertainment editor

I despise sports. 

There’s nothing that boggles my mind more than how so many people, especially Americans, can devote such large portions of their time and lives to either participating or watching sports. 

My family is that type of people, and they enrolled me in football, baseball, basketball, volleyball and even gymnastics as a kid – all of which I loathed and quit.

So there is no person as perfect and unbiased as I to determine the hot topic of what activities are and are not sports. Oxford Languages defines a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.”

For the sake of this exploration, I’ll be using that definition and evaluating sports on three different criteria: do they display physical exertion, is it competitive and is it done willingly for recreation or entertainment. If an activity meets those three pillars, I will dub it a sport. If an activity does not meet those categories, I will declare it as nothing more than a hobby and ultimately make some chess players upset.


Cheer has a clear answer. Perhaps it’s the fact they aren’t judged on a blatant point scoring system and that they win via subjective judging, but I’ve still always considered cheer as one of the toughest sports out there.

Not only do you have to work well as a team, but you as an individual carry so much weight because if you go down so do your teammates – quite literally if you’re suspending one up in the air.

With those Cirque du Soleil type stunts, there’s clear physical exertion, there are cheer competitions and I assume those 5-foot-1 girls are having a good time when they get thrown through the air.

It’s settled; cheer is from here forth a sport.


With the word ‘sports’ literally in the name, many may think it would qualify as such. But that’s where many would be wrong. Esports is at most an attention-demanding hobby, not a sport.

Going through the previously established criteria, there’s one big thing missing – physical exertion.

Yes, they move their thumbs and eyeballs, but if those qualified as physical exertion then Hell’s Kitchen would be a sport. There’s a fine line between a competition and a sport. 

The type of training a runner, football player or even a cheerleader would need to do to be the best in their sport is vastly different from that of an esports competitor. According to OneEsports, an official esports organization, they recommend physical fitness to deal with things such as jet lag and fatigue, not your overall performance in a competition.

Esports, it’s game over. You are from here forth not a sport.


The activity that comes to my mind when debating the legitimacy of something being a sport is chess. So what better way to end my sports tyranny than going with the most controversial of topics. It is in my professional, but not really professional, opinion that chess is not a sport.

I can’t fathom the rigorous training a chess grandmaster would need to undergo to gain their title. However, I also couldn’t fathom the training for a pilot, a biochemist or a stunt double, all of which I’m pretty certain don’t have to do with sports. 

What I’m trying to get at is that effort and time doesn’t necessarily equal the physical exertion as stated in the definition of sports. CNBC reports that many top chess players burn up to 6,000 calories today on psychological and mental exertion – but not physical. 

Checkmate, chess is declared as not a sport.

Regardless if you play football, chess or something in between, they all do share one common thing which is entertainment. So don’t let some 18-year-old couch potato cramp your mood, keep on doing what makes you happy – even if that happens to be esports.