Commentary

Page 2 readers vote down cheerleading

Originally Published: August 5, 2010
By Jerry Greene | Special to Page 2

Bad news, cheerleading.

You've taken another tumble, and this time you may not get up.

Prompted by the recent federal court ruling that cheerleading would not be considered a collegiate sport, we asked the Page 2 readership to settle this "sport/not a sport" debate by voting on activities that may pose as sports but don't really make the grade.

Nearly 400 readers cast more than 1,100 votes. And when the tally was done, cheerleading was once again No. 1.

Not a sport.

But other activities may face more embarrassment because at least cheerleading is used to this. But if events such as golf and auto racing aren't sports, as our list below indicates, then we have one thing to say about them: O-ver-ra-ted. (Clap-clap-clap.)

Let's get to the list with a comment from the readers on each item, and then we'll talk about it a little more:

Top 10 Activities Not Really Sports

1. Cheerleading (9 percent of total vote): "It's based on supporting a real team win. What's next? Competitive vuvuzela-ing?" -- Jake M., Greensboro, N.C.

2. Poker (8.9 percent): "People trying hard to have no expression but we're supposed to be thrilled when they move their hands." -- Jeff P., Orlando, Fla.

3. Golf (7.8 percent) -- "It's like playing fetch with your dog, except your dog died." -- Len W., Salt Lake City.

4. Auto racing (7.7 percent) -- "Where's the defense? Make half the cars go one way and half go the other. Then you've got a sport." -- Tim, Chicago.

5. Ice Skating (7.5 percent): "Not even any 'stare downs' unless you count what they do in that 'kiss and cry' booth after two dozen flowers and a teddy bear." -- Ian, New York City.

6. Bowling (5.9 percent): "When third graders have birthday parties, they don't hold a football game. They go bowling." -- Luke P., Kalamazoo, Mich.

7. Competitive eating (5.8 percent): "If this was a sport, Thanksgiving dinner at my house would be the Super Bowl. And fat Uncle Charlie would be MVP." -- Nick D., Brownsburg, Ind.

8. Synchronized swimming (4.0 percent): "You need a reason to say this isn't a sport? Come on, man, just look at it!" -- Stan N., Los Angeles.

9. Fishing (3.9 percent) -- "It's hurting another species and being boring while doing it." -- Connor M., St. Paul, Minn.

10. Horse Racing (3.2 percent): "The horses are athletic but the jockeys are nothing more than wannabe NASCAR drivers that are too short to drive." -- Fred A., Little Rock, Ark.

Other non-sports that just missed the list included diving, hunting, chess, pool, sailing, archery, rodeo, curling, X Games, boxing/MMA, chess and our beloved spelling bee.

You took this seriously, with numerous voters listing their own rules for what qualities an activity must possess to be truly called a sport. Howard M. Wasserman, associate professor of law at Florida International University in Miami, represented a popular view when he wrote "If it is about objective questions such as who runs faster or who scores more points, it is a sport; if it is about getting a 5.6 from the East Germany judge, it is not a sport."

Robert A. of Shreveport, La., put it another way: "Not once while watching football have I heard 'Peyton Manning throws another TD pass but it only went 6 yards and the receiver wasn't smiling, so the judges award just four points for that one.'"

Casey M. of Columbia, S.C., added another requirement considered vital to many: "Defense has to be involved."

No defense is one reason so many voted for golf as a non-sport. Another reason mentioned far more than once was John Daly -- and his pants.

The oddest piece of information came from Terry S. of Louisville, Ky., who advised that if you go to ukathletics.com, you discover that the University of Kentucky lists "Rifle" as a sport. In fact, the website boasts this intriguing headline: "Jackson Named Conference Shooter of the Year."

And some athletic events got some unexpected love, such as Marching Band and Drum Corp from Justine G. of Fern Park, Fla., who writes: "When you're in a competitive musical group that combines high skill musical performing with high risk marching, you have 'sport.'"

"High risk marching?"

Don't ask.

Jerry Greene is a retired sports columnist for the Orlando Sentinel. He can be reached at osogreene@aol.com


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