Sports Television: More Than Bats and Balls

When one thinks of sports television, one might picture a family or a group of friends catching highlights of last night’s basketball game on ESPN or watching football through an NFL Sunday ticket package. However, with the proliferation of satellite TV, ESPN and other similar channels are now showing billiards, poker, and other events that may not necessarily involve what is traditionally conceived as athletic ability. Can we really call these programs “sports television”?

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Take poker, for example. Poker programs appear on the Game Show Network as well as on ESPN and other “traditional” sports stations. In the last ten years, the popularity of poker has increased dramatically, with poker rooms opening at casinos and more and more people learning to play this exciting game. Major poker tournaments are regularly shown on cable television, and to many people professional poker players are as recognizable as any other athlete. In some countries, there are even entire TV channels devoted to poker. But can playing poker actually be called a “sport ไฮไลท์บอลย้อนหลัง?”

Can something be called a sport just for the reason that it involves athletic activity? If so, what about yoga? This is something that clearly involves athletic activity, but is not likely to be thought of as a “sport.” And do golf or bowling, which many people think of as sports, really require enough athletic prowess to be considered a similar activity to football or basketball?

Is something a sport if it involves competition? Clearly part of the thrill of watching sports on television is the suspense of not knowing whether your team, or your friend’s team, is going to triumph. However, if competition is the only element of the definition of “sport,” then one could easily classify something like Scrabble as a sport. Professional Scrabble players participate in tournaments around the world with intense competition. Professional video gamers do the same. On the flip side of this argument, what about activities that are clearly athletic, but whose results are not really compared against those of other people, such as a person training themselves to run a charity ten-kilometer race?

Is it the element of watching an activity that makes it a sport? This too seems inadequate to describe what is or is not a sport, since one can argue that if watching something makes it a sport, then live theater or performances by street mimes could be sports as well. So, what makes a sport? Sports more than anything else seem to be part of our shared culture. Maybe more than anything else, it is how sports bring people together that really sets them apart from the other activities people might engage in. This seems to be one thing that rings true among all the activities currently shown on various sports networks available today.

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