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Auto racing: Not a sport - Greg Gelpi

Just call me an amateur athlete. Why? I commute to work.

Short and to the point, auto racing is not a sport, and I'm not an amateur athlete.

My coworkers argued and argued against me on this point a few days ago, which drove me to the dictionary.

The first three definitions in Webster's use the words "physical activity," "physical exertion" and "active pastime."

Pushing my thin frame to its breaking point, literally, I ran cross country in high school. Pounding my feet over countless miles of pavement and wooded trails, each step wore away the bones in my body, strained the muscles in my legs and taunted me mentally.

My final race of my final season with the team ranked No. 1 in the state, a nagging pain pulsed through my left foot forcing me to favor my right.

Three miles later after wobbling across the finish line ahead of a few others, I found that I had two broken feet.

That is a sport. That is "physical exertion."

Am I an amateur athlete for driving my car to the burger joint? I do exert that force to turn the wheel and push down on the gas pedal. Sometimes I break into a sweat with my workout routine of driving my car to and from work. Still, it fails to rise to the level of a sport.

I have no worries about my doctor telling me to pick up a physical activity to stay in shape. I will proudly point to my odometer to show how in shape I am.

The argument comes down to semantics. Let me make two points.

First, it's easier to say what is not a sport, than what is a sport.

Sports have certain elements. Physical exertion, competitiveness and some form of organization are essential for something to be considered a sport.

Auto racing does have competition, and it does have organization, officials and rules that govern the hobby. It does not have the physical component.

Fighting tooth and nail, car racing fans make impassioned pleas for driving to be considered a sport. Why? What is so special about being called a "sport"?

Auto racing is not a sport, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't take talent, skill and hard work.

I'll be the first to say that I couldn't do it, but difficulty doesn't make something a sport. Most people can run, yet it is still a sport.

Going around and around in my head, my only idea is that by making auto racing a sport you make race car drivers athletes, a slap in the face to many. The car in auto racing is in better shape than the car driver.

Until race car drivers start their engines and propel their cars forward like Fred Flintstone, using their own feet, race car drivers are not athletes and race car driving is not a sport.

Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.