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Is Bodybuilding a Sport?

By Adam Sinicki

Reprinted from: www.the-biomatrix.net home of self enhancement for bodybuilders, martial artists, traceurs, athletes and transhumanists.


Is bodybuilding a sport? Bodybuilding is a sport and more.

Many people attempting to diss the activity I spend a large proportion of my life pursuing, claim that bodybuilding shouldn't be classified as a sport. When they say this they are often also implying that it's easy or somehow less worthwhile an activity. Wankers. In actual fact bodybuilding is a sport - even Wikipedia says so - and their whining isn't going to do anything about it. Furthermore, I'd go as far as to say that it's also more than a sport in many ways. It's like a sport x 2.

Here are what I perceive to be the reasons many people diss the sport. Firstly, the 'soft' scoring system, whereby your points fall to the opinions of judges rather than cold measurements, to many this makes the scores seem superficial and unrepresentative of ability. To write bodybuilding off as a sport on these grounds however is to write off gymnastics, diving, figure skating (okay, maybe that one can go) and many other sporting events. Infact, almost every sport has some elements that come down to the judges opinion such as when a ref gives a red card in a game of football, which can just as easily change the outcome of the match.

Perhaps a larger problem is the nature of the competition itself. Critics will argue that there is no 'skill' or 'talent' in standing on a stage and flexing your muscles for a few minutes; they see it more as a glorified Ms World than an authentic competition because no one's throwing anything. Again this is a rather limiting view of sports, and the detractors fail to realise that the actual hard work in any event goes on behind the scenes. The competition itself is to be in the best shape possible on the day, just as in sprinting you must be your fastest on that day. It doesn't matter how fast or slow you are at any other time, but on that single day you must be performing your best - in bodybuilding it's no different and that is the nature of any competition. The problem with a sport like sprinting however is that if it all goes wrong on the day from a trip or cold, then all your training becomes moot and the outcome isn't a true representation of who was the better sportsman. In bodybuilding however, where the competitors are judged almost entirely on the work they put in before the event this isn't a problem. In that sense bodybuilding is actually more pure a sport. It is simply a measure of who has achieved a better state of athleticism with no confounding factors - just as all sports should be.
Mixed in with this ill-informed view is the idea that bodybuilding requires less 'skill'. Actually standing on a stage and flexing all your muscles for long periods of time is very difficult (no less so than dance) and there are some clever tactics involved in trying to outdo the opposition. The real skill however comes in the training itself which is a very in-depth and exact science. I challenge anyone who doesn't bodybuild to bench press 100kg - then tell me there's no skill or technique involved. Even if they were strong enough they simply wouldn't have the technique, the balance or the supporting muscles. In fact I recently read in a scientific journal (I read scientific journals now apparently), that although Gorillas are at least 5 times as strong as humans strong enough to rip trees up they are not able to bench press as much as top athletes as they lack the technique. As in any sport it takes skill, technique, intelligence and large amounts of sweat and determination to succeed.

I heard somewhere recently that a radio presenter claimed bodybuilding wasn't a sport because 'given 3 years anyone could succeed'. What a complete dick, he's blatantly never touched a weight in his life - I have never heard such bullshit. Firstly - only about 5% of the population has the necessary genes. Secondly - only about 5% of that 5% has the incredible amount of dedication that it takes to literally beast yourself in the gym 5-10 hours a week (and then completely change their diet). It takes far more than 3 years just to learn everything you need to know to succeed - how to train properly, how to eat properly, which supplements to use, how to use proper technique, what your own unique strong points and weak points are, which techniques work for you... To be a champion you need to be constantly on the cutting edge of the science and technology surrounding the sport.
Perhaps the radio presenter is one of the ignorant majority who believes you can achieve an Arnie like physique by simply using steroids then again he's mistaken. I know many people who use steroids and are still no bigger than me (not to blow my own trumpet or anything) because they don't have the genetics or the determination. In short steroids are simply synthetic hormones - they are not magic pills that will give you Popeye-like guns with no work. Furthermore there are many natural competitions that are far more strict on regulating the use of illegal substances and there aren't any sports in the world that haven't had cases of practitioners using banned substances.
I'd love to see this big-mouthed presenter crowned Mr Olympia. This could be a case of 'bodybuilders killed the radio star'. Most like he has a 'body for radio'. Ignorant twat.

Others have also made the complete opposite claim - that bodybuilding is just a matter of genetics. Again this is a complete fallacy as you'll never get someone who naturally looks like Ronnie Coleman - that takes years and years of training and studying. Of course there are those who are genetically predisposed to be successful, but again this is the case in any sport. If you're 5'1'' you're probably not going to be very successful in basketball. Does this diminish the value of basketball as a sport? Success in any sport comes down to natural skill (genetics) and learned skill (training) and the ratio simply differs between individuals. If you have the strength to go against your genetics then more power to you.

I also think that many people look down on the sport as being a bit poncy or gay; oiled-up men posing on a stage in front of a judge who then marks them on the symmetry of their body. It doesn't exactly sound like an honourable or worthwhile way for athletes to clash, but let me show you why you are wrong.
Fundamentally any sport is simply an alternative to war or combat and in this sense boxing or martial arts are probably the purest examples with bodybuilding close behind. It's natural for males to want to prove their dominance and to settle disputes in this fashion. Boxing was probably invented when two cavemen started attacking each other but agreed at the beginning 'You know what? Maybe we don't kill each other? Just bruise each other a bit... my wife Ugg is expecting...' - thus sport was born.
Since then man came up with many ways to prove his superiority without actually having to kill anyone; seeing who could throw things the furthest or who could run faster. For this reason sports in my opinion should hold real-world validity - they should display a skill set that can be useful in our day-to-lives or in actual combat. That's why I've never understood the appeal of something like football. What are you really testing here? Someone's 'ability to kick a ball within a team towards a goal not using their hands' and then as if that wasn't convoluted enough they then threw in a bunch of rules which constantly stop the flow of the game and reduce it to a strangely formulaic experience that would never really occur off the pitch.
Bodybuilding however is a display of strength - something that is useful in almost every single task we perform and probably the single biggest factor in deciding who the 'dominant' male is. If one guy can do loads of keepy-ups but another man can crush a full can of coke in his hand which one are you going to want on your side? In the wild animals actually use an equivalent of bodybuilding as a competition to avoid getting harmed during confrontations - for example stags rather than actually head butting each other will often just show off their antlers until the opposition backs down. Gorilas will beat their chests. Essentially what they are doing is showing off their weapons then going 'are you sure you still want a piece of this?'. In the pose-down this comparison is at its most dramatic and most obvious (it even occurs between countries showing off their nuclear weapons). It is a completely raw display of masculinity, power and physicality.
This probably happens to bodybuilders all the time in the street. They get sized up before the potential attacker thinks 'nah' and chooses to back off. It's the ultimate form of self defence - the ultimate alternative to actual combat. Still for ponces?

I also like the fact that success in bodybuilding comes down to the individual. Team sports essentially come down to who has enough cash to buy the best players, and then if the team is a success no one person can claim the victory. No one person can claim to be the best. How this is satisfying for the sportsman I'll never know. Even in a sport like swimming success can be effected by less resistant swimwear. Formula one is probably the biggest culprit here with success massively dependent on the car. Come on guys, stop picking on bodybuilding and have a go at driving!
Bodybuilding is simply down to you. When you're in the gym it's simply your own will power, your own genetics, and your own skill that's going to get you through that final set on the squats. If you fail you have only yourself to answer to, but if you succeed then the glory is all yours.

For these very reasons however, the reasons that make it so pure a competitive pursuit, bodybuilding is also more than a sport. It affects every single thing you do. Being stronger will change the very way you think, the way you carry yourself, your mood, your success with women, your confidence, even the clothes you wear. It will carry over into every other activity you do and you will find yourself slightly better at almost any other sport than you were before (not true of many other sports). The training itself will also affect everything you do - it will change what you eat, how long you sleep, how long you stay out at that party, what you spend your money. If you do volley ball as a hobby you might go to practice once a week. You don't do bodybuilding as a hobby.
Bodybuilding is a sport, but like Parkour and Martial Arts (two of my other favourite pass times coincidentally), it is also a way of life. Arnold Schwarzenegger once said that everything he knows he learned from bodybuilding. What he meant by that was that it taught him the determination and the hardiness that has seen him succeed in business, movies and politics. In the moment that you're fighting yourself to push through a final rep you truly know yourself and you share more in common with the heroes of legend than with your pencil-pushing colleagues.

What does Ronnie Coleman call bodybuilding? What ever he wants!

I think I've made my point.

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