Category Archives: Sports

Is It A Sport?

Recently, a court case in Connecticut has begun in which the judge is attempting to determine if cheerleading is a sport. Cheer is generally categorized as an activity for a number of reasons, but a primary one is that sports must have a defined and limited season length which would drastically change the development of the participants. Still, schools try to label it a sport to comply with Title IX instead of having any solid reason for doing so. The Connecticut case is one where a university wishes to label cheerleading a sport which would allow Quinnipiac University to eliminate volleyball but still remain in compliance with Title IX laws.

In truth, I’m not all that knowledgeable about the case or the issue, but I do know that I have a system for classifying what I believe a sport should be.

To me, a sport can be athletically or skillfully decided on the field, court, pitch, or whatever playing area is used. Judges do not determine the outcome; referees may enforce rules, but the action is decided solely by the competitors. This means that football, baseball, sprinting, swimming, long jump, and so on would be sports in my mind.

However, gymnastics, dance, cheer, ice skating, and the like would be, to me, athletic events but more accurately artistic competitions and not sports. Since judges determine the outcomes, I would not classify activities such as these as sports. The participants are undoubtedly athletic and impressive–maybe even superior–competitors than those in what I call sports; however, to me anything judged is an artistic competition.

Of course, someone always wants to throw boxing into the mix since it has judges; however, the boxers can decide the matches for themselves, so I call boxing a sport.

Plus, things like chess, poker, darts, dominoes, and events such as these would simply be games in my mind. If you play it in a bar or casino, it’s a game. 🙂

Now to be honest, my wife does not like my interpretation of classifications, but I like it. I have yet to have someone present an activity I could not classify, so until I’m stumped I’ll stick with sports, artistic competitions, and games.

Maybe I can decide the court case in Connecticut. Put back volleyball and leave cheer alone!

I Guess Academics Don’t Always Matter

Charlie Weis was fired from his head coaching job at Notre Dame. I’d have to say that it was a justifiable firing although I also think Notre Dame has too high expectations, but that’s a post of a different color.

What interests me about Weis’ dismissal is that the Notre Dame Athletic Director, Jack Swarbrick, stated that Charlie Weis “did win a national championship at Notre Dame because the Irish finished first in graduation success rate this year.” However, Swarbrick also noted that the Weis firing was justifiable because “it is critical to this program and to its place in this University and college football that we compete at the highest level, that we compete for National Championships.”

Academic successes, however, could not save Weis’ job. Academic success is not the goal. In fact, most college football experts will say that winning football championships and having the highest of graduation rates do not go together (as they have been discussing this week on ESPN Radio and on ESPN’s TV shows). The best athletes in football rarely have the best grades.

Still, I like the bitter and revealing irony of Swarbrick’s comments. Collegiate athletic programs are more concerned with victories than they are with graduates. Perhaps this is a statement which is overly obvious, but it still resonates with me.

A part of me feels like this situation is somewhat analogous to the pressure applied to teachers in the classroom. Having high standards for students is ultimately important, but we’re asked to focus on passage or graduation rates. I have posted previously that I have been pressured to pass kids or make deals with kids rather than holding them to the requested high standards. This, to me, again shows that academics and learning are not the priority but numbers are. It sometimes comes down to a win/loss record first and foremost.

Or maybe I’m just feeling a bit cynical today. 🙂

Great but not the Greatest of the Day

Dallin Palmer had a great night against Kennewick: “Dallin Palmer rumbled for 300 yards and Stephen Garcia ran for a pair of touchdowns and threw for another as Southridge pounded the Lions on the ground.”

300 yards rushing is a rarity in high school football, any level of football really, and Palmer should be proud and probably thought no one in the conference would match it. He would be the talk of the league for the week.

However, Jacob Sealby had an even bigger night, setting a single game and career rushing mark, with 322 yards rushing against Sunnyside: “Sealby ran for 322 yards on 26 carries, setting the school single-game mark, previously established by Nate Gowing (305 yards) in 2005 at Davis. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Sealby now has 1,312 yards rushing this season, giving him 2,175 for his career in purple and gold, eclipsing the mark of 2,088 set by Tyce Thomas in 2007.”

What an amazing night of football!

I tend to look at the stat lines in games, and I love looking for these types oddities. One player has a career game, which would normally be the highlight of the evening sports report, but another athlete in the same league (or even game sometimes) has a bigger one. Baseball is normally the arena where this happens most often, but it happens elsewhere as well.

Of course, my mind wandered right back to teaching and education in general. I sometimes see the stories in the newspaper or on television where a school is highlighted for its miraculous improvement in state test scores or the increase in the number of students taking AP courses, and I really wish there could be a regular segment of a news program or a section in the newspaper reserved for the greatness around us every day.

I want to hear about the incremental improvements over time in my local schools, to see the pictures and names of the kids who are the first in their families to earn a diploma, to read about the teacher who works with the most difficult populations without any accolades, to know about the teachers who work behind the scenes and put in boatloads of hours working to improve education for the kids, and so on.

The stories about individual greatness are fun, but I want the realities and the unsung heroes of my profession. Maybe I’m just channeling an old post–I don’t know–but I do respect those local greats who live without honors and awards and still do everything they can to help kids and colleagues.