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Double Axels And Death Spirals — Yes, Figure Skating Is A Sport

Russia's Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar helped Russia take gold during the team figure skating competition in Sochi.
Russia's Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar helped Russia take gold during the team figure skating competition in Sochi.

With the addition of team figure skating to the Olympic manifest, I wasn't surprised to hear from my grumpy old pal the Sports Curmudgeon. "Hey, Frank," the crabby kibitzer said, "when you gonna admit that anything that calls itself a sport that has music outside o' halftime ain't a real sport?"

Actually, there are other sporting defenders of the faith who are even more critical. They maintain that any sport — like figure skating, gymnastics, diving, halfpipe — that is resolved by exterior judges rather than by the participants themselves is not a true sport.

Boxing is not a true sport, I reply? Most boxing matches are determined by judges scoring, not referees counting to 10. Well, the critics say, that's different.

See, it's not easy to qualify what makes a sport a sport. My broad, more inclusive definition would simply be that anytime you compete in a physical activity, you have a sport. In terms of the purity of sport, I would say that the ultimate is when one individual goes directly against another, mano a mano —where you must not only compete, but compete against your rival's attempts to stop you.

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on this issue.

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