What makes a sport a sport?


For a website dedicated to the coverage of sport, the question What makes a sport a sport? doesn’t often make it’s way into the general thought processes at The Sportress. However after nearly choking on our Weet-Bix this week reading about news out of Denmark, it is one that we feel needs a little more pondering.

Odd One Out 3

I’m sure that most of you who have read past the philosophical ponderings of the first paragraph and perused the above illustration, will have correctly identified Rugby League as the odd one out in this line up of activities. The reason why might be a little surprising though. You see, according to the Global Association of International Sports Federations, Rugby League is the one activity in this list that is not a sport.

That’s right at GAISF recent meeting in the Danish city of Aarhaus, they upheld their long held position that Rugby League does not meet the necessary requirements to be a member of the association. The lunacy of the position compounded in the realisation that while Rugby League doesn’t measure up – arm wrestling, poker, foot golf, pole sports and table soccer do.

GAISF’s decision making process in action.

The esteemed organisation, that we had not heard of before this week, have refused to be drawn on how they have reached this decision. This has not stopped a number of reasons being widely floated.

It has been said that the GAISF have reservations as to the voracity of Rugby League’s claim to be played in 65 countries. With due respect to the two sports, it is a little hard to believe that similar reservations aren’t held in relation to the international standing of Table Soccer or Foot Golf. What on earth is Foot Golf? What next? Recognition of hide and seek or brittish bulldog?

Another explanation has it that GAISF are reticent to afford Rugby League status due to an adjudication that Rugby League is just a rival competition to Rugby Union. The GSAIF seeming to be of the view that 122-years after the creation of League, that it is perhaps more likely that it will patch up its relationship with Union rather than continue on as it currently does as a completely different game.

Duck, duck, goose, another sport expected to be ratified by GAISF before Rugby League.

In a world were bureaucracy often trumps common sense this takes some beating for its ridiculousness. Effectively the GAISF are suggesting that, if like me you have competed in a sanctioned Pub Poker night, you might have more claims to being an international sportsperson than Cameron Smith or Billy Slater. You’d expect something like that to be expressed on April Fools Day, not to come from a formal sporting organisation.

Anyway, I was going to spend the next month or so watching the Rugby League World Cup. Instead I’ll spend my time focused on actual international sports. Anybody want to come over and play table soccer?

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