Saturday, October 24, 2015

Is Running A Sport?

"The contents of this [blog] are personal and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps."

Since I've been in Guyana, I have come across about 15 runners, all of which were in Georgetown. I have yet to see someone run since I moved to New Amsterdam. I thought I did once but the guy was just catching a taxi.

In addition to the always clever "white boy" thrown out about every 1/4 of a mile, I've noticed that a lot of people hear go "oh exercising, huh?" Like they've seen running somewhere before and now only connecting with that vague and elusive term. That is not to say that people here don't exercise but almost always it occurs in a team-sport setting. Cricket, soccer and even basketball (which I saw for the first time the other day and I am going to see if there's a set time for pick-up) and other team sports are ubiquitous down here just not ever running. Or cycling for that matter. Cyclists are EVERYWHERE but I have yet to see one sweating or breathing heavily while doing so. The one hill in town, a bridge over the Canje, often has cyclists walking their bikes up it rather than exert themselves. I, myself, have taken to the slow spin as I have started using my beat up bike purely for commuting purposes.

It's as if endurance sports don't exist down here. But that's not true either because there are competitive cycling and running races but it's limited to internationally competitive racers and there just doesn't seem to be a middle ground. Either you're competing at an elite level or you view running purely as exercise. It doesn't seem to be any notion of running as a recreational sport.

Which begs the question: is it? This age-old question goes, at least, as far back as my high-school sports career in which I would have said definitively  no it is not. Running is for training or as a punishment when preparing for real sports. I obviously shifted my mindset when I started running myself noting that clearly it was a sport. 
Since I would have no one trust MY definition, I refer to to answer it. They say a sport is "an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment". Well there you have it. Running is not a sport. Nobody finds running entertaining to watch. haha I'm just kidding. So it seems running can be a sport or punishment or, as the Guyanese say, just exercise. Maybe if the Guyana marathon takes off, that mindset may change. 

Until next time,


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