Sport and Non-Sport
Earlier this year, following a report by the BBC’s Panorama programme, Sport England released a statement declaring that “sport” activities should be regulated to protect the interests of both sports fans and competitors. The regulator said, “It was clear that there was a distinction between sport and leisure, and that there needs to be a degree of common sense between them.” However, following the announcement, Sport England stressed that its position was based on the fact that “a great deal of confusion” had been generated and that it was “right to make that distinction”. It went on to say that it was “wrong to say there is less sport than there is opportunity”.
This week, following a further inquiry by the BBC’s Jonathan Dimblepool, it has been revealed that Sport England has actually watered down its definition of what constitutes “sports” in order to allow for the inclusion of non-sport activities into the syllabus. The current code states that “sport” includes participation in leisure and recreational activity, but goes on to add that “any activity taken part in by people at leisure in order to develop individually and at together” would also be deemed to be part of sport. This is despite the fact that the current code also goes on to state that “any individual sport which enables individuals to use their heads and physical skills in a competitive context” is acceptable. Sport England went on to add that this definition had been repeatedly misunderstood and was being interpreted in a “disingenuous” way. In essence, it argues that there is nothing unsportive about taking part in a game of darts or a round of golf – if done as part of an exercise routine, say.
Sport England goes on to state that many non-sport activities are skill-based and therefore demand skill in order to succeed. This may well be true. But skill is not the only requirement of sport, as Sport England further explains: “athleticism, or even just plain ordinary skill, is not, nor is it necessarily the point of the sport.” To use the sport example again, the act of boxing is a skill, but there is much more to it than just having the physical strength to throw a punch. And in many ways, it is not just the physical exertion that counts, but rather, the mental and emotional skills that are required to win.