There’s an interesting story behind the photo in this post.  Yesterday, I interviewed a student for a part-time job with my department.  I work in communication and relationship managment for an IT department and one of the primary things I look for when I hire someone is his or her ability to take highly technical and complicated concepts and synthesize them down in a way that your grandma would understand. Some people’s grandmas are rocket scientists, I know, but most people’s grandmas aren’t very tech-savvy. Mine has never turned on a computer or used the Internet.

So on this person’s resume, cricket was listed as a hobby.  I had the bright idea to hand the interviewee a dry erase marker, slide my whiteboard over and ask for an explanation of cricket.  I figured this was a technical subject that I knew nothing about and thus, would make a good exercise in determining whether or not this individual could communicate.  The results are as follows:

I still have no idea how the game of cricket is played. I know Kevin Peterson is a English-born cricket player on the South African team, but otherwise I couldn’t tell you much about the game. This wasn’t necessarily the fault of the student I interviewed.  I pretty sure I understood the words being spoken to me, they just didn’t all fit together to describe a game that made sense

I’m going to add a somewhat subjective criteria for what is or isn’t a sport.  If a moderately intelligent person can’t undertsand the rules explained in their native language, then it’s not a sport.

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It’s nice being validated by writers in the mainstream media.  Check out article on sports that should be kicked out of the Olympics by Time Magazine’s Hannah Beech. I’ve sort of had this lingering misgiving about some of the more girly sports that I couldn’t quite articulate.  It’s not that they don’t require athletic ability, it’s just that they’re so, well, girly.  The writer of this article sums it up nicely (referring to rhythimic gymnastics and synchronized swimming):

The problem with both events, in my mind, is that the girly bits overshadow the athletic parts. Synchronized swimming and rhythmic gymnastics involve such copious amounts of cosmetics that they make a Texas beauty pageant look sedate. Yes, thighs strain with effort, but I’m distracted by the twirling toes and the bleached teeth framed by rictus smiles. And the accoutrements of rhythmic gymnastics — the hoop, the swirling ribbon — divert from the balletic grace of the athletes.

This ain’t your momma’s East German swim team.

Ah, the Olympics are upon us and the world turns its gaze towards China and the awesome athletic prowess of Michael Phelps and Glen Eller. Never heard of Glen Eller, you say? Well, let me tell you about Glen “The Glide” Eller (nickname mine, but I think it will catch on).

Mr. Eller is one bad-a with a shotgun, as he brought home the gold this year in shooting, winning the gold in double trap, a non-sport, which is the point of my post. There are several so-called “sports” in the Olympics that have no business being there because they aren’t a sport, they’re just hobbies. Do they take a lot of skill? Absolutely. Hand-eye coordination? You bet. But those things don’t make an activity a sport. If all you need to qualify your hobby as a sport is skill, technical know-how and hand-eye coordination, then quiting, knitting and cross-stich need to be added to the list of events for London 2012.  I wonder if they would do one of those annoying biomentary pieces for Olympic quilters? Fighting back from multiple index finger injuries and the loss of her cat, Horace, Gretchen Fincklemeyer comes into these games as a force to be reckoned with…back to you, Bob Costas.

Take my quick quiz to see if you can correctly distinguish sports from non-sports:

Which of the following Olympic events is a sport, and thus deserves to remain a part of the Olympic games?
a. Shooting
b. Sailing
c. NASCAR
d. Equestrian
e. None of the Above

If you answered a,b,c or d, you’re wrong. These are hobbies that rely on the power or strength of a machine or animal to accomplish the intended results. Not right. Not wrong. Just different (and not sports).

If you answered None of the Above, you are correct. Happy hobbying.