If I know anything about white people (and I think I do), it’s that they like watching the exploitation of little girls they call gymnastics at the Summer Olympics.
In fact, the only thing they like better than that is making jokes about how they don’t like the Winter Olympics.
“I mean come on, has anyone seen this crazy thing they call curling? Am I the only one who realizes how ridiculous this sport is?” No anonymous white person, you aren’t. Nor are you the only person that knows that the “Biathlon” in the Winter Olympics consists of Cross-Country Skiing and Skeet Shooting. So shut the hell up.
But one of the favorite arguments that people of all colors, shapes, sizes, and immigration statuses like to have is the classic “How is that even a sport?” debate. Well, the answer is that they are not all really sports, and I have heroically decided to take it upon myself to decide which of the 15 sports being contested in this year’s Olympics are sports and which probably are the result of tragic overreaction to dares of “you won’t” at the International Olympic Committee.
First though, let me explain where I am coming from in my evaluations of the different activities. The way I define a sport is this: if you score points in a goal (or basket/endzone/hole/home plate) or if you are racing, then your activity is a sport. These two measures are objective, and while Tim Donaghy-among others-has forever proven that they can be tampered with, you either scored more points than your opponent or less points than your opponent. You either went faster than your opponent or you didn’t. No subjectivity. No French judges just making shit up. No fairy men crying on the shoulder of their trainer and life partner because they didn’t stick the landing on that triple twister or whatever it’s called. If your activity is entirely or mostly decided by the ruling of a set of judges, then it is not a sport. While it may require a lot of athleticism and may be a very competitive event, it is not a sport.
Also, if your uniform involves more sequins than pads, it is not a sport. I hate Figure Skating.
So here goes, starting with the least sporty and counting towards Hockey, (sorry but come on, we all knew that was gonna be the most official sport) here is the official ruling-once and for all-on what is and is not a sport in the Winter Olympics:
NB: Extra consideration for the purpose of rankings goes to badassery levels. The more of a badass you have to be to play a given sport, the better it is ranked
Figure Skating: If you don’t know who Johnny Weir is, consider yourself lucky, never type his name into Google or Wikipedia, and repeat “ignorance is bliss” to yourself until you forget reading that name. If you do know who he is, you know why I typed that last sentence. This fancy nancy jumps around wearing animal skins (not in the Davey Crockett/Paul Bunyan way) and wears more makeup than Joe Buck and J-Woww combined. Maybe he’s good at what he does, but I’ll be damned if I’ll call him an athlete. Have I mentioned that I’m not all that fond of Figure Skating?
Curling: Ok, I started playing shuffleboard at Whitpain Greens Swim Club when I was about 6 years old. Even then I would have rather been doing any one of the other cooler things I could do at the Swim Club like playing a better sport like wiffle ball, stealing money out of my mom’s purse to get food at the snack bar, or peeing in the pool. While it qualifies for the objective scoring element of being a sport and curling is slightly different than shuffleboard in that you have brooms and people don’t play it at bars, it is difficult to give such a strange and stupid-looking sport any credit.
Freestyle Skiing: Now things are starting to get into the interesting sports, as the next two are pretty similar, and are actually entertaining to watch. Freestyle Skiing involves competitors going off of a jump for judges to rate them on the impressiveness of their jump and the grace of their tricks and landing. People (and when I say people I mean the men, because if you ever watch the women’s divisions of things like this it leaves you feeling like you just flipped the channel to a “Rocky” marathon and then the remote broke and you ended up watching “Rocky Balboa” instead of one of the good ones) can do some throw down some dope moves on these jumps, but the fact that it is decided by judges makes it not a sport.
Snowboarding: No matter how often you watch the X-Games and think “Hey, maybe Sal Masakela’s right, maybe I could get into this stuff,” it doesn’t mean that Snowboarding is a sport. Fun to do? Yeah, if you can pull it off. Awesome to watch? Some of the camera angles are ridiculous and wipeouts like the one Shaun White took in the halfpipe and the X-Games a month ago are impossible to turn off. But just because 14-year-old you would call you “such a sellout, bro” for turning your back on your extreme fantasy life doesn’t negate the fact that it’s much more a hobby and fascinating TV than it is a sport.
Ski Jumping: Ski Jumping is a weird in-between sport that doesn’t have an objective goal in which to score points and is not a race, but it all comes down to how far you can get off of the ramp, so at least there aren’t judges. This sport loses points because it’s more about technique than it is about athletic ability. I mean it obviously takes athleticism to stay in the proper position to get max distance at such high speeds, but the fact that you really just go straight down a hill to get speed without ever propelling yourself bothers me.
Luge/Skeleton/Bobsled: I know these are different individual sports, but they are really the same thing in different sizes and orientations. I mean saying these are different is like saying that scull and sweep rowing are different. True, they are, but if you care that much you need to look in the mirror. And then you need to punch yourself in the face and watch yourself bleeding in the mirror until you realize that it doesn’t matter. Anyway, these sports are good because they are racing sports, but after the initial push, enough of the work is done by the sled that these fall slightly behind the other racing sports.
Biathlon: Also a racing sport, the Biathlon tests two sets of skills simultaneously as the competitors are required to ski around a track and stop every lap to shoot at a target. Props for creativity, but of the remaining sports this one is the least legit. It’s just too weird to be at the top of this list. Sorry to offend the large biathlete following I’ve heard we have. (Oh, we don’t have a biathlete following? Do we have any following? Who am I even writing this for? Who cares, we’re almost at Hockey.)
Cross-Country Skiing: Cross-country skiing is a pretty sweet endurance sport, and although it is really boring to watch because of how long the races are, this sport is for real. It’s a race, so there’s no question over its legitimacy. If you go from Point A to Point B faster than your competition, you win. The wipeout/injury factor is really low on this sport though, which is really disappointing and ultimately puts it behind its “Alpine” counterpart.
Alpine Skiing: This one is down a hill, so the propulsion question from Freestyle Skiing is something of a concern, but the badassery factor is enormous. These people go fast and sometimes, they run into shit. And it hurts them a lot, but sweet lord baby Jesus is it compelling TV.
Speed Skating: Like the Luge/Skeleton/Bobsled clusterfuck, this actually is broken down into “Speed Skating” and “Short Track Speed Skating,” but I can lump them together if I want to. Suck it. This sport is intense and super competitive and just a straight-up “let’s line up next to each other and see who can go faster” race. No gimmicks, no frills. They go around in a circle (well, oval) as fast as they can and Apolo Ohno gets a lot of media coverage. Facts is facts, and them’s the facts about Speed Skating.
Hockey: Fast skating, big hits, sweet goals, funny facial hair, missing teeth, light beer, unattractive Middle American women, and beating the Russians are what Hockey is all about. Canada is really good at it which is a legitimate concern because anything Canadians like is almost inherently tied to being a pussy, but this is a pretty cool sport. It also doesn’t help that the next coolest sport it’s competing against is Speed Skating. While we all like Hockey in the context of the Winter Olympics, I think the fact that Hockey runs away with the title of “coolest sport at the Winter Games” is pretty indicative of why nobody watches the Winter Olympics.
Now we just need to find stupid white people some new jokes to run through about them at their cocktail parties.