September 5th, 2006


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12:35 am - on the wide world of sports...

PNC Park
Originally uploaded by chrismaverick.
so its been a sport filled weekend for me. beststephi has subjected me to countless hours of US Open coverage. I had a worked a wrestling show in Ohio yesterday, and today Steph and I played tennis ourselves (and I handily beat her, I might add, because I am just that awesome).

Anyway, while laying in bed watching yet more US Open coverage, I began telling her about this half-baked theory I had come up with when I was younger. Basically, the way I see it, in the vast history of our planet man has only managed to come up with six sports. That's it thousands of years of civilization, a multi-billion dollar world wide atheletic industry and we only have six sports.

  1. Get the ball to the other end of the field
  2. Hit the target with the ball
  3. Don't let the ball hit the net
  4. Run faster than the other guy
  5. Beat the other guy up
  6. Baseball

I defy anyone to come up with a sport that doesn't fit nicely into one of those six buckets.

Granted sometimes one massages the rules in some trivial way in order to pretend its a different sport. Like hockey, which is basically the same game as soccer, football, and basketball, except the ball is hard and flat. Or all the variations of hit the target with the ball that use arrows or bullets or darts or whatnot. And of course there are lots of variations of racing that instead of judging who runs the fastest, instead judges who can jump the highest, throw the farthest or lift the heaviest weight. But they're all essentially the same.

Baseball seems like its kind of a unique sport (well, it and cricket), and I always give it its own category for convenience sake, but really, its just a combination of the game of hit the target, and a couple kinds of racing. Really, when you think about it, baseball is a seriously complex game. You'd think there'd be more games like it that took interesting variations on the other games and mixed them together. But no, most of them just sit in one of the 5 buckets or another. Ok, I'm not so sure about Calvinball.

It has been my goal over the years to get the list to as few buckets as possible. I'm not positive the games of racing and beating up the other guy are really all that different. But I've always erred on the side of considering them different for the simple reason of direction interaction. Whereas in the racing events, one tries to accomplish his goal more or less independently of the other competitor, in the long honored game of beat the other guy up, you must... well directly confront the competitor... and beat him up. This is why professional wrestling is such a pure sport.

Now while watching tennis, I really started thinking about how it differs from the other sports. All the other sports have a decisive end. And they have rules one must work within. In football for instance, there are certain formations you may use and if you deviate from those, you are penalized. In racing you are DQ'd if you start early. In pro-wrestling if you hold the ropes you must break the hold, or be DQ'd. In baseball you have to run the bases in a certain order. etc. In any sporting event of all of the other types, one can essentially play a perfect game by having neither competitor ever break a rule and therefore determine who the better man is. But in tennis, the rules of conduct simply determine who gets the points. The entire point of the game of hit the ball over the net is to keep playing until the other guy eventually accidentally breaks one of the rules (lets the ball hit the ground, or hit the net or go out of bounds). Essentially the only penalty for anything you can do in tennis is that the other guy gets points. The perfect, no rules broken, game of tennis/volleyball/pong essentially goes on forever.

So am I missing anything? Is there some sport that I am unaware of that doesn't fit in one of my buckets? Is there some group of sports that you think deserve their own bucket? Is it clear what sports go in which bucket? Is my analysis of how any of the buckets works wrong? As always, I am interested in everyone's point of view.

(44 comments | Leave a comment)

 
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Comments:


[User Picture]From: thomas_sean Date: September 5th, 2006 - 05:18 am (Link)

Occupational Skill Sports + Judged sports

Especially rodeo sports, lumberjack competitions, and maybe fishing have similarities to some of those categories but it seems that besting nature is more the focus. Consider bull riding, log rolling and sport fishing seem different enough to count as a seperate category.

Diving, gymnastics, ice skating, ball room dancing, all are very physical, athletic sports where form, artistry and execution are 'quantitatively' judged.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 11:22 am (Link)

Re: Occupational Skill Sports + Judged sports

and all ae essentially racing, albeit more complex than other forms. I used to actually consider the gymnastics group as different than racing because of the judging, but then I got to thinking that the manner in which a race is judged, be it someone awarding points or someone paying attention to who crosses the line first doesn't really make it not a race. Its just that some referees are more involved in the outcome of a sport than other referees. For instance, there are more subjective calls in football than there are hockey, but they're still the same sport.
From: thomas_sean Date: September 5th, 2006 - 01:09 pm (Link)

Re: Occupational Skill Sports + Judged sports

From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 01:20 pm (Link)

Re: Occupational Skill Sports + Judged sports

From: bryguypgh Date: September 5th, 2006 - 01:26 pm (Link)

Re: Occupational Skill Sports + Judged sports

From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 01:36 pm (Link)

Re: Occupational Skill Sports + Judged sports

From: thomas_sean Date: September 5th, 2006 - 01:13 pm (Link)

Re: Occupational Skill Sports + Judged sports

From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 01:23 pm (Link)

Re: Occupational Skill Sports + Judged sports

From: thomas_sean Date: September 5th, 2006 - 03:26 pm (Link)

Re: Occupational Skill Sports + Judged sports

From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 03:50 pm (Link)

Re: Occupational Skill Sports + Judged sports

From: thomas_sean Date: September 5th, 2006 - 03:53 pm (Link)

Re: Occupational Skill Sports + Judged sports

From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 05:23 pm (Link)

Re: Occupational Skill Sports + Judged sports

From: thomas_sean Date: September 5th, 2006 - 05:36 pm (Link)

Re: Occupational Skill Sports + Judged sports

From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 05:55 pm (Link)

Re: Occupational Skill Sports + Judged sports

[User Picture]From: bryguypgh Date: September 5th, 2006 - 12:21 pm (Link)

other sport archetypes

Hacky-sack: suspend the ball in midair cooperatively for as long as possible.
Figure Skating/Skateboarding/Synchronized Swimming/Gymnastics/etc.: graceful exertion
Weightlifting: maximum exertion
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 01:07 pm (Link)

Re: other sport archetypes

interesting... I've never actually considered hacky-sack before, but just to think about it for a moment, I think that at essence hackysack is still the game of "don't let the ball hit the net," it's just that the net is essentially replaced with the ground. I'll grant though its a pretty large deviation from the standard volleyball, tennis versions. But if you stop thinking of the net game as tennis and instead boil it down to its essence, pong, I think its clearly the same game.

Figure Skating, et al goes to what I was talking about with Tommy. I used to consider "judged skill challenges" as their own sport, but then I realized that they are essentially racing. Maybe I need a better term for it. But here's where it becomes clear. Downhill Slalom is clearly a racing event. But several skiiers participate in several ski events. If we move on to ski jumping, we see what at first appears to not be a race, but then upon closer look, it is... We're just judging based on distance rather than time. From there we can look at the ski trick competitions and again, we're effectively judging skill rather than speed or distance, but we're still just measuring a physical skill and comparing ratings. In fact, in a perfect world, figure skating for instance, has no subjective element. In fact, they're constantly adding scoring rules to skating and gymnastics to try to remove the ambiguities. One day, they'll judge trick competitions by computer like in SSX or something.

Weight lifting also counts as racing. As does shot put and other throwing sports. Perhaps renaming the category "arbitrary physical skill test" would make it more obvious.
[User Picture]From: suicideking Date: September 5th, 2006 - 01:00 pm (Link)
I would argue that "Don't let the ball hit the Net" is a modified form of "Get the ball to the other end of the field."
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 01:07 pm (Link)
I used to think that too... Years ago, someone, don't remember who, convinced me that the difference is that in "Don't let the ball hit the net" you're essentially trying to keep the ball in play as long as possible. There is no limit to gameplay. Where as in "get the ball to the other end of the field" You're trying to get the ball into a specific goal point like past a line or in a basket. I think its a weak distinction, since one could argue that in tennis, I'm trying to get the ball "past the other guy" but I think one of the other strong separators is that in football, basketball, et al, I am specifically trying to not let the ball fall into control of the other team, I want to keep it in my possession as long as possible. Whereas in tennis and volleyball, I am passing the ball into their possession and hoping they fail to return it back to mine.

But yeah, I see your point.
[User Picture]From: marsinthestars Date: September 5th, 2006 - 02:09 pm (Link)
where does fencing fit in?

And cheerleading?
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 02:14 pm (Link)
fencing is easy. beating up the other guy. The fact that one uses swords instead of fists is no different than one using rackets instead of fists in the net game (tennis vs. volleyball). The fact that you're not trying to "hurt" the other guy is simply a social convenience. Its still sword fighting. Just as in wrestling you're trying to pin the other guy rather than actually knocking him out.

cheerleading is harder, but is of the same ilk as gymnastics and such, which I am currently counting as racing (see much discussion above).
From: marsinthestars Date: September 5th, 2006 - 08:56 pm (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: September 6th, 2006 - 01:47 am (Link)
[User Picture]From: pallmalls Date: September 5th, 2006 - 02:44 pm (Link)
Where do you put things like billiards, snooker, etc?
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 02:46 pm (Link)
hit the target with the ball. Golf as well.
From: pallmalls Date: September 5th, 2006 - 02:53 pm (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 02:59 pm (Link)
From: pallmalls Date: September 5th, 2006 - 05:09 pm (Link)
From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 05:19 pm (Link)
[User Picture]From: thwomp Date: September 5th, 2006 - 05:11 pm (Link)
I have no idea if cricket fits into these buckets or not, because nobody really has any freakin' idea how to play cricket. Maybe it's just baseball.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 05:25 pm (Link)
to the extent that I understand it, I think cricket is baseball, but I totally admit that I don't really get it.
From: thomas_sean Date: September 5th, 2006 - 05:31 pm (Link)

cricket rules

From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 05:58 pm (Link)

Re: cricket rules

From: thomas_sean Date: September 5th, 2006 - 06:10 pm (Link)

Re: cricket rules

From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 07:49 pm (Link)

Re: cricket rules

From: suicideking Date: September 5th, 2006 - 07:25 pm (Link)

Re: cricket rules

From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 07:41 pm (Link)

Re: cricket rules

From: suicideking Date: September 5th, 2006 - 08:09 pm (Link)

Re: cricket rules

From: chrismaverick Date: September 6th, 2006 - 01:47 am (Link)

Re: cricket rules

From: mokatz Date: September 5th, 2006 - 07:23 pm (Link)

Re: cricket rules

From: chrismaverick Date: September 5th, 2006 - 07:45 pm (Link)

Re: cricket rules

[User Picture]From: zyrain Date: September 5th, 2006 - 11:30 pm (Link)
Golf?
Croquet?
Curling?

And, of course, Hashing?
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 6th, 2006 - 01:50 am (Link)
Golf - Hit target with the ball
Croquet - Get the ball to the other end of the field (granted with aspects of hit target with the ball along the way, but the primary game is football)
Curling - Hit the target with the ball (as are bowling and shuffleboard)
Hashing - Racing.
[User Picture]From: froggiesocks Date: September 6th, 2006 - 07:10 am (Link)
What about roller derby? man, I am so friggin' sick of roller derby.
[User Picture]From: chrismaverick Date: September 6th, 2006 - 01:14 pm (Link)
defensive strategy of the blockers aside, I'd say roller derby is essentially a race between the jammers. The scoring does make it a bit odd though.

Why are you sick of roller derby? Have you been going to it a lot or something?
 

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