Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sport vs. Activity - Assessing Your Half-Assed Efforts

It appears that there is a mass confusion over what defines a series of movements or a game as either a 'sport' or an 'activity.' And because I pretty much started this controversy, I'll also need to be the one to define the terms and put the issue to rest. I've compiled a list of criteria to help you analyze what it is that you just took part in. Of course, some of this criteria can be ambiguous and misleading, so I've included comments to help quell any further confusion that may arise.

If you find yourself scratching your head over what just happened, you need only resort to this handy list.

1) Did you sweat at all as the events were taking place?

One of the easiest methods to employ is measuring the physical effort you've just exerted. Now, this is what I mean by certain criteria being ambiguous, because even if you stand still in a field, if the weather is 105 degrees Farhenheit, you'll most likely sweat. Subsequently, if you've been sitting in an extremely hot race car, you've also probably been sweating while driving around in that damn circle all day. This doesn't mean you've just played a sport, so don't be fooled by that assumption. 'Sport-related' sweat is always coupled with compromised breathing patterns.

-strictly temperature-induced sweating

2) Was there a risk of danger, or any form of physical harm?

Again, misleading. You could get hit with a stray ball while teeing up on the 1st hole, but that doesn't mean you were at all close to playing a sport before you were put into a coma. What I'm talking about here is harm that you can either inflict or suffer from by means of bodily contact. A sure-fire way to tell if what you've just done was a sport is to consider whether or not phsyical contact was required to compete properly. If it was, then you've just taken part in sport. But even if it wasn't exactly required, it might still have been a sport. Take for instance basketball - you could easily get elbowed in the face while trying for a rebound. I've seen it happen, and it's always hilarious. Thus, basketball is a sport.

-being killed in a car crash
-slipping on ice while sweeping

3) The proximity of other individuals - or even, the presence of other individuals.

Were there other people present? Was the presence of those people even necessary? This is the only criteria that is unequivical. If you can complete a series of actions with absolutely no need for any other individuals (like solo-running your personal-best mile), you've probably only taken part in an activity. Every sport requires people and players other than yourself. There's only one confusing aspect to this - shooting free-throws, skating laps, or spending time in the batting cage are all forms of activity, even though such actions can be combined with other actions to comprise a 'sport.'

-charity races (not a sport)
-golf (don't get me started)

4) Overall fitness of participants.

Did noticably unfit people seem to be entirely unencumbered by their slothfulness? What comes to mind here are both billiards and cards. If you can complete all necessary actions while remaining seated, there's a pretty good chance that you were nowhere close to being an athlete. Also, if you were able to drink more than one beer and not puke or obviously suck more than your sober counterparts, that was definitely not a sport. Sorry, I like to drink too, but only apres-sport.

Well I hope that I've helped to ease everyone's confusion. Nit-picking seems to be something I'm very good at, so I never feel disappointed when forced to step up and clear the air like this. I dare you to try and shoot holes in my assumptions - it won't work, I'm wearing a bullet-proof vest fashioned out of both pride and ignorance.

Buzz Kill - Let's Drop this Business Vernacular

Today had me thinking of a lot of different things, like an ADHD-riddled child being given free-reign over touching anything he pleases in Toys-R-Us. Unforutnately, most of the subjects weren't appropriate to be discussed here. But I found that one of these subjects could actually be learned from and reflected upon. The nature of which is of course business buzz-phrases. I must note though, that we are all guilty of using these at one time or another - I'm not just being snobby here. In this analysis I hope to higher our realization and discretion towards muttering these useless phrases, much like strapping one of those anti-barking collars to your dog to get it to shut up so that you and the neighbours can finally get some sleep.

I'm only going to list a few, though I do recognize that a plethora of buzz-words can be found in everyday interactions. So, without further adieu, here is my list of buzzwords that need to once-and-for-all be, proverbally, nipped in the bud.

(note: I'm trying to be ironic in using buzz-phrases in this last sentence. I am not falling victim to them)

At the End of the Day...
First of all, I try to keep my mind off of the end of any given day. Because on most days (eg. Monday through Friday), I cannot comprehend the notion that there actually is a finite amount of time belonging to the work-day, and that the suffering will in fact come to an end. This phrase is used to distract the listener from any inconsequential disasters that will come from any given practice, because to quote another buzz-phrase, "the end always justifies the means."

Moving Forward...
No, please, I insist that we continue to stand still or pace in circles, much like we've done for the first three hours of this conference call. If we were to actually move forward, we might later need to…..
Touch Base.
This one has come in handy for me on occasion. It's a very effective phrase for endearing your listener into the belief that you'll be looking into something, that the issue is on your list of top priorities, and that you'll most definitely have more information or conclusions to report to them in the near future. A very effective way to end the call, allowing your cauliflowered-ear to begin it's healing process, and your dignity to resurface.

In my opinion…
When normal people discuss things, they usually only speak their own words and opinions. If what you're saying is actually someone else's opinion, only then does it need to be prefaced with a disclaimer on it's authenticity. Otherwise, we'll all just assume that you're thinking for yourself, because nobody who is at all quote-worthy would have come up with what you just told me about the structure of reporting information in spreadsheets.

…on a high level
This phrase has perhaps become the epitomy of our conversational irritations. It is, without a doubt, the penultimate reason for cringing and dying just a little inside when we hear certain people talk. I could go further, but, 'nuff said.

It is what it is.
Of course it is. Do you actually believe that you're achieving some sort of profound realization, and enlightening me all at the same time? I agree with the "less is more" generalization, in that boiling things down to their bare essentials is the best way to rationalize them, but you aren't making the issue-at-hand any less frustrating in saying this. It's kind of like when you were young, and you asked your parents "why?," and they replied, "because."

To end this rambling, if anyone has even made it this far, I'd like to philosiphize on the prospect of using all of the above phrases in a single sentence, but still managing to keep the sentence somewhat believable. I've come up with this…

"Moving forward…it is in my opinion that we should, on a high level, touch base and come to the conclusion that the human race is a pretensious bunch of fools that, at the end of the day, are only using their knowledge in the most convenient way possible."

I thought that worked rather well. What's that? I left one of the phrases out? Well, you'll just have to accept my short-coming...because it is what it is.