Nike rolled out a new commercial that featuring Tiger Woods playing golf, but implemented factors and backdrops from sports like boxing and baseball. The advertisement is tremendous, however it begs us to ask the question, “Is golf a sport?”
To the avid golfer this is a ridiculous query because of the amount of difficulty that the game presents. One could play golf from age of 12 until they were in the twilight of their life and never truly master the skills. The mental parts of golf are exhausting and can drive a player insane. The Oxford Dictionary defines a sport as “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Golf technically fits under the definition as sport, but some would argue that there are significant elements missing from golf that are meaningful factors in other sports.
First off there is no defense in golf. Golfers aren’t teeing off at the 12th hole with their head on a swivel because they’re fretting that Ndamukong Suh will come charging at them and put them in the hospital with a fractured spine from a bone-shattering tackle. Golfers have all the time and silence to put forth their best drive without interference. Golf features as much defense as a game of darts or bowling. Golf fans may argue that golf is difficult and competitive, thus making it a sport. However chess is difficult and competitive eating is indeed competitive, but no one is labeling those two activities as sports.
One may question if golfers are athletes since there is no running and they can get chauffeured around the course in a golf cart as in the case of disabled golfer Casey Martin. Golf advocates may ask if the pleasantly plump C.C. Sabathia or Prince Fielder are athletes? Prince Fielder has to worry about a 95 mph Sabathia fastball taking his head off and Sabathia has to worry about grooving a pitch and having Fielder take his pitch out of the park. There are constant adjustments that players and coaches in the major sports have to make according to their ever-changing opponents. Golfers have to adapt to winds and course conditions, but a bunker is not going to suddenly move 30-yards and plop its self right in front of the 18th hole.
Golfers can play into their advanced years where as you don’t see many 70-year-old hockey players skating around and checking people into the boards. Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open in 1965 at the age of 52 years and 311 days. In the major four sports anyone over the age of 40 is typically a backup or reserve player who hardly plays.
The notable absence of golf in the Olympics could be a point that it is not really a sport. It has been absent from the Olympics since the 1904 Summer Olympics, but will return in the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Finally if golf was indisputably a sport than why would Nike feel the need to make a commercial that reminds everyone that golf is a sport?
So what do you think, is golf a sport or a game?