The Art of Athletics

Anyone that is in my presence for more than ten minutes will probably pick up that I am passionate about two things outside of my family: Sports (particularly football and basketball) and artistic expression (particularly music and film). I’ve often debated with various friends whether or not sports could be considered art, and opinions have varied.

Art is defined as the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, producing work to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional value. Think of the skill it takes to swing a baseball bat and make contact with an orb being hurled at you at 90 miles per hour. The beauty of a hockey player floating across the ice and, with the flick of his or her wrist, scoring a goal. The skill and imagination it takes an in-flight basketball player to complete a slam dunk no one has ever witnessed before. Picture the emotional reaction those watching display upon the successful completion of these feats. How can these not be considered works of art?

Some would argue that sports have a definite set of rules that preclude them from being “art.” Art has no bounds and plays by no rules, they say. I disagree. If a painter is using a canvas he or she can only paint in the spaces the canvas supplies. A dancer can only dance in the space allotted for their performance if they want the audience to see them (sure, they can dance right out of the theater, but that would defeat the purpose of the performance). A musician is not allowed to record and perform for profit music composed by another artist. All areas of life, including the arts, have rules and regulations that must be abided by, just like sports.

Artist have rehearsals, athletes have practices. Artists often sketch or outline an idea before creating a final piece, athletes game plan and watch video of their opponents before coming up with a particular plan of attack. Artists take years and years of practice and patience to refine their skills, as do athletes. Not everyone can appreciate the work of Picasso or can sit through a ballet performance just as some cannot fully grasp the beauty of Serena Williams’ serve or view an entire figure skating competition. The joy and artistry in all of those are subjective to the viewer. The parallels are never ending!

What side of the discussion do you fall on? Would you agree that synchronized swimming, gymnastics or even high diving provide the perfect linkage of athletics as art? Or do you think of sports strictly as physical activity with little to no aesthetic value? Comment below!