Sunday, February 15, 2009


Is Nordic Walking a Sport?

Following Paul Chesmore's excellent article; "Is Nordic Walking a Sport", which he wrote as a follow up to Malcolm Jarvis's excellent original article of the same title, I thought I'd offer my contributions to this interesting debate.

The idea that Paul offers, that above all Nordic Walking is a 'recreation activity', sits well with me. That Nordic Walking is a sport can certainly be contested but I don't think it can be denied that Nordic Walking is most definately a 'recreational activity' . If we are looking for an 'umbrella' definition, I think we are going to be hard pressed to better it.

Note: Like Paul, my personal preference is the word 'recreational' versus 'leisure'!

The argument as to weather certain recreational activities are sports, or not, will always be debated. To spread some more light on our debate, I thought I'd take a look at some dictionary definitions of the word 'sport'. Here is what I found out...

1) states:

Sport is: An athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling, wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.

2) Cambridge Dictionary of American English

Sport is: A game, competition, or similar activity, done for enjoyment or as a job, that takes physical effort and skill and is played or done by following particular rules

3) Longman's Dictionary of Contemporary English (2003 edition) states:

Sport is: A physical activity where people compete against each other.

4) Collins Gem English Dictionary (1989 edition) states:

Sport is: A game, activity for pleasure, competition, exercise.


Sport is: An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others.

Based on the opinions of these respected fountains of knowledge, Nordic Walking does appear to fit into the definition of a sport, at least under certain circumstances. In English speaking countries such as USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Nordic Walking competitions are few and far between (although there are more than there used to be). Not so in Mainland Europe! Germany (for example) has many Nordic Walking competitions, with competitions often attracting thousands of participants / competitors!

So, where does this leave our debate. Well; individuals will clearly make up their own mind. However, personally, for now at least, I'm going to take the following stance...

At it's current point in the evolutionary process:

"Nordic Walking is primarily a recreational activity, that can, when a competitive element is introduced, be classified as a sport".

So, straight answer to a straight question. Is not walking a sport?

...It can be ! :-)

David Downer
Owner - NordicWalking News / Nordic Walking eCommunty
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