When is a Sport, a Sport?

Amanda Ramey, Journalism Student

What classifies an activity as a sport? Is it the fatigued huffing and puffing of the debilitated players after a game? Is it the exhilarated cheering of the crowd after a touchdown or the grass-stained uniforms and dirt-caked palms of perspiring, red-faced players during a game? Perhaps it is the rush of adrenaline pulsing through the determined veins of athletes attempting to make the winning goal.

Surprisingly, it is none of these things; the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, (the CIAC) decides what is a sport in Connecticut schools. Mrs. Jayme McGovern, the athletic director at BHS, suspects the CIAC makes their decisions based on rules, organization, and competition. In addition, Coach McGovern states that her definition of a sport is “Something that has some level of competition. Often times people say that winter guard and dance team aren’t sports, but they have every right to call themselves sports because they lead to competition,” says Coach McGovern.

While the athletic director at BHS believes that sports are all about the competition, others feel that the activity must require some sort of physical exertion to be a sport. For example, competitive sandwich making or a nice game of Scrabble would not be considered sports just because they lead to competition, right?

But what about Winter Guard?

“Winter Guard absolutely is a sport,” states Jeff Choice, the varsity winter guard coach at BHS. And yet, Winter Guard is categorized as a “club,” which is slightly offensive to the activity, because it makes Winter Guard appear to not be competitive or athletic. In all actuality, it is both.

Coach McGovern agrees. After all, Winter Guard is a competitive activity that requires physical strength and endurance. Team members must demonstrate a great level of skill and muscle memory through the use of flags, rifles, sabers, and dance. The logo for winter guard is “sport of the arts,” key word there being SPORT, so why does the CIAC consider it a club?

And then what about Cheerleading and Dance Team? Neither is considered a sport.

Tenth grader Ashley Johnson, a member of the Bethel High School dance team, whole-heartedly believes that dance team is a sport. She states, “It is a physical activity and it’s full of school spirit. We dance at school football and basketball games, and we have practice after school like all the other school sports. I personally believe it is a sport.”

Sports have been an important part of this world for hundreds of years. They bring people together by both watching and playing them. Coach McGovern’s love of sports stems from the fact that “They teach life skills and accountability, responsibility, and sportsmanship.” Therefore, it is mind-boggling that CIAC has yet to accept newer, less traditional sports like Winter Guard, Dance Team, and Cheerleading as sports.