When asked, “What is sport?” we often go to the natural prototypes of football, basketball or even baseball. However, we are reluctant to answer the question with cheerleading or horseback riding. Why? In our society we tend to think that if it does not involve a ball and men yelling, it cannot possibly constitute a sport.
In actuality, many activities require the stamina, determination and physicality of that which is considered the “standard sport.” A sport is an activity that is physical, competitive and governed by rules or expectations.
With this definition, cheerleading and horseback riding become one with the identification of a sport. However, many still argue that a sport cannot be one that includes drama and art. With this ideology, many performance-based activities are tossed to the side.
Personally, this argument has haunted me since I tackled the art of marching band during my high school career. Back at school in Florida in 2012, I saw myself under the smoldering summer sun, running, playing and making lasting memories. I assumed that the activity I spent two or three dozen hours a week devoting my entire self to was in fact a sport. In biology class during my sophomore year. I sat next to a soccer player who was complaining about his upcoming practice. He declared that a two-hour practice was too hard for him. I proceeded to tell him that my practice after school was going to be six hours long. I really thought that would make him realize the hard work I put into marching band. Much to my dismay, he replied, “But it’s just marching band. It’s not like it’s hard or anything.”
My golly, if I could have flipped my lab table, I would have. I kept my cool and proceeded to tell him about my other practices. He, knowing deep down that I was right, turned to his football player friend. Little did he know the football player would side with me.
“Man, I see them practice, and it looks really hard,” the football player said.
I wanted to childishly say, “Ha, ha, I TOLD YOU SO,” but I kept my cool. My struggle with marching band being considered a sport was far smaller than the overall problem. Not only are performance activities not often considered sports, but I feel they are often underappreciated. Many in our society would rather watch the Super Bowl than the dancers of the American Ballet Theatre. Art is constantly put in second place in relation to the standard sport. Even though each activity requires its participants to sacrifice most of their time, only some are regularly given proper recognition.
In the realm of public education, these “artsy sports” are hardly given credit at all. The bias in our school system might be seen with the distribution of federal funding. Football is often given a plethora of advertising, money and faculty attention, whereas marching band is hardly given a safe practice field. I saw this personally when my practice field in high school was a piece of land covered in dirt. This does not sound that bad, but, because I was in Florida, the dirt would very quickly turn into mud with the Sunshine State’s very frequent storms. Many fellow band members were injured while trying to perform to their highest potential.
In order for performance-based activities to be given their rightful distinction of sport, they need to be recognized as strenuous activities first.