Is backpacking a sport?
So we all know there are a lot of weird sports included in the Olympics that never see the light of prime-time television. I mean c’mon, do we really need a sport that involves horses dancing to choreographed music or speed walking... really? A sport is defined, by Sir Webster, as physical activity engaged in for pleasure. That leaves the door wide open for a lot of things we just won’t go into on here.
That definition leads me to this question: Can backpacking or hiking be considered a sport? Is Andrew Skurka our Michael Phelps or Bear Grylls our Tom Brady? Equipment is getting lighter and the price tag heavier and the outdoor market is flooded with brand names. Just as the Nike swoosh means something to a basketball player so does the Patagonia mountain range at sunset to many hikers who sport the latest in down insulation or quick drying pants.
But what about competition? Isn’t sport about competition? I would say that is an element. The thrill of competing against someone else to see who is superior is very much an element of any good sporting match. Whether you’re fighting to the death or fighting the elements competition and the excitement when the adrenaline starts pumping plays a big role.
I know I asked more questions than I answered. I would say yes, backpacking and hiking can be considered sport. You are competing with yourself... challenging yourself and pushing yourself to, in some cases, your limit. We’ll likely never see Bob Costas giving us the highlights on who won the gold for backpacking but that’s okay. It will hopefully continue to be a sport that one competes at on their own stage... a stage deep in the backcountry of some of the wildest places on our planet.
What are your thoughts? Sport or not a sport?