The naked truth about sport

By Ruth Davenport

I’m starting to think that sports have gone the way of the dinosaur. Sure, you can tell me there’s a whole new generation of fitter, healthier people parading under the proud banner of "athletes." You can tell me that the percentage of the population involved in "sports" is higher than ever before. I say that percentage of the population is for the most part kidding themselves.

It used to be sports was such a simple concept. But somewhere in the age of enlightenment and inclusiveness, the lines between "sports" and the bastard children "leisure activity" and "physical pasttime" have been blurred and now anyone who can say the word "sport" gets to say they play one.

I know what you’re thinking–who’s to say what defines a sport? I’m well aware of the grey areas, as well as the human rights activists just waiting to slap my wrist and tell me that there’s an athlete inside all of us. I don’t deny that, I just question the external manifestations of said athlete.

You can tell me until you’re blue in the face that ballroom dancing is the same as hockey, the same as ice fishing and the same as water polo. I’ll never believe you for one simple reason: you can’t do them all naked.

That’s right. To end this debate once and for all, if you think that you’re involved in a true sport, do it in your birthday suit with a coating of vaseline. If it doesn’t add some element of spirituality to your performance or at least show off your biceps, and you feel more like you’re a Twinkie than an Adonis, then don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Let’s face it, the guys who know sports are the ancient Greeks. In their coliseums and arenas athletes did their thing totally buff, greased up to the hilt. Losers were put to the death and winners didn’t get money or gold, just a laurel leaf and a whole lotta glory. Can you imagine Buck-naked Ballroom Dancing? Indecent Ice Fishing? Platform diving without a stitch? Regrets to all the Participants Formerly Known as Sportsmen, but you had to know the dream was going to end.

I’m not denying you can achieve physical excellence without being in a sport; and I realize a great number of non-sports require hours of dedication and commitment, and immense amounts of skill. I do not mean to undermine the achievements of these individuals; I ask only that the word "sport" not be used as a generic umbrella term for any pasttime involving physical movement. There are certain undeniable connotations associated with the word in its purest form, and I’m not questioning your right to chase a little diveted ball across acres of immaculately groomed grass and be the world’s best at it. Just understand that unless you can do it naked, the only sport you’ll be involved in is "spectator."

Face it. In too many instances, the appellation "sport" is a misnomer, and it’s time we returned to it the credit it deserves. There are individuals out there willing to lay it all–all, I say–on the line to be involved in a sport, and these people deserve to be known as unadulterated sportsmen. These are the indivduals who deserve our respect for having gone back to the basics, stripped down to the essentials and revealed sports in all their true magnificence.

Leave a comment