The other night Erica Hynes, Mike Iannotto and myself were out enjoying a few adult beverages when we saw an advertisement for the PBA - the Professional Bowlers Association. The commercial showed one of the pros throwing the ball with a wicked curve down the lane that ended with all the pins falling down.
"It must be nice to be able to do that almost every time you step up to the lane," I said. "Heck, that's probably more of a sport than NASCAR."
Mike tried to argue with me by asking if I thought it was harder to drive a car doing 180 miles-per-hour or throwing a ball down a lane. That's not that point I was trying to make, but if you know Mike then you know he isn't the best at drawing analogies.
Either way, I told him that I thought it would take me less time to perfect driving a car at 180 mph than it would for me to average 275 in bowling. Any monkey with a two hands and a right foot can drive a car. Case in point. And he seems to do a good job at bobbing and weaving through traffic - a key to racing. I have yet to see a monkey pick up eight strikes in a game of bowling.
To me, something is a sport only when the human (or monkey) is the one doing the work. In car racing, the car is doing all of the work. Yeah, the driver is steering and shifting, but what athletic skill is that? You don't need to learn different ways to steer a car. You either turn it left or turn it right. You either hit the gas pedal or hit the brake. I see 5-year-olds do it all the time in the arcade.
One could probably say that the ball is doing the work in bowling, or that the club is doing the work in golf. No, the person is doing the work. He is throwing the ball. He is swinging the club. If he doesn't throw or swing it right, he won't get good results. I guess you could say that about driving a car too, but it's really not the same thing. The person will get tired of throwing a ball after a while. A person won't get fatigued from hitting the brake. All I am trying to say is that it will take a person less time to become good at racing a car then they would for them to become good at golf. And that NASCAR isn't a sport.
You have to be in good shape to survive on tour - especially in golf. Bowlers too. They have to have the proper conditioning to continuously throw a 16-pound ball at 20+ mph. What conditioning is there to driving? You are sitting down the entire time!
If John Candy (R.I.P) were still around, I bet he could drive a race car as soon as he fit in the window. That might take a while, but you know what I mean. I bet he wouldn't be able to break 200 or make a par in his first game/round of play.
I guess it comes down to how someone defines 'sport.' If you think a sport is anything you compete in, then yes NASCAR would be a sport. But so would pinochle then. To me, a sport in something that takes skill and talent and hard work to become good at. You have to exert energy. You have to use your muscles and your body directly.
So many things have become 'sports' today. Snowmobile riding. Poker. I even saw dominoes on ESPN a couple of times a few years ago. They aren't sports to me. They are hobbies. Activities.
Everyone should just play basketball. It would make everything a lot easier.