What makes FRC a sport?

I was talking with a friend about sports today and when I brought up how FRC is a sport, he disagreed. He explained that because we aren’t required to be athletic and endure physical punishement like in lacrosse, football, soccer and other physical enduring sports that you can’t say FRC is a sport. This argument is coming from someone who has never experienced the FRC and FIRST environment. I want to know from you what makes FRC and/or FIRST a sport.

I would say FIRST is more of a sport of the mind than an actual sport. I have been very active in both physical sports(soccer, football, basketball, etc.) and sports of the mind(FIRST, poker, chess, etc.).

While I love FIRST it doesn’t compare to a physical sport in the type of adrenaline you get when competing. Now I’m not saying you/I don’t get pumped up and excited and nervous and all that comes with competing but its not the same as working up a sweat and knocking down a game winning 3 pointer or something like that.

FIRST is a sport its just a different form of a sport.

If poker is a sport (look, it’s shown on both ESPN and FSN), then robotics, where you lift weights (robot parts) and carry them, and where you throw things to try to hit targets, is a sport.

Or, to put it another way: It’s a sport where you build your own athlete.

FRC is a sport of the mind. I have been in Cross-Country & Track and it is also more of a sport of the mind, but just as much of the body. You need the head to keep going, the body will naturally go along.

Same as in FIRST. You need to stay up for a week to finish programming, that takes a toll on the body. A sore body results in a sore mind. You need guts to keep moving foward.

Sports test the strong, weed out those who can’t hack the stress. It also forces you to see your limits. As a student programmer in 2010, I couldn’t bear to watch our bot perform because I put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into it, and I didn’t want to see it die. Last year, as a senior, I programmed the entire bot with little assisstance. But I could not drive worth a whit. Similar to football, you dedicate tasks: tackle, ball throwing, ball catching.

FIRST is the most glorious test of the mind. Anyone can run a marathon or get a slam-dunk. It takes guts to admit you are a nerd that enjoys six weeks off non-stop stress, and actually thrives on it.

First Statement = SERIOUSLY?

Second statement = QUOTABLE!

Yes, seriously. Two sports networks show poker games. There might be more I’m not aware of.

Oh, and I forgot: WAYYY back in the day, ESPN showed the FIRST Robotics Competition Nationals. Back in the 90’s, or so I hear.


Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition Defines Sport as:

  1. an individual or group activity pursued for exercise or pleasure, often involving the testing of physical capabilities and taking the form of a competitive game such as football, tennis, etc

Lets break it down piece by piece:
an individual or group activity I don’t think anyone will argue this.
pursued for exercise or pleasure I don’t know about your team, but our team has fun, and derives pleasure from seeing the robot compete.
**often involving the testing of physical capabilities and taking the form of a competitive game ** The basic structure of FIRST competitions is a competitive game. Further, it is a test of physical capabilities - of the robot, not the student.

It’s a question of how you define the competitor in the activity. If your friend has any doubts that your robot is a fierce competitor that requires all the athleticism and endurance he thinks of in sports, first show him a video of a hard-hitting match. Then tell him he can stand in for one of the robots, and you’ll have paramedics standing by to reattach his severed limbs when he’s done :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s a competitive game. While it should be treated like a sport, sports are simple competitive games that rely on pushing humans to their physical limits instead of mental limits. FIRST games are complex and rely on design and intellectual capability much more than the average sport.

I get the the point you are trying to make, but I don’t fully agree with it. Some sports are extremely physically oriented, and require very little intellect. However, other sports require quite a bit of intellect to really excel. Obviously, the physical portion tends to come first, but there tends to be quite a bit of intellectual challenge when you get to the level where everyone you are playing is of the same physical stature.


If there is a game, and you sweat, it’s a sport.

I know I sweated A LOT last season!

Does it matter if it is or is not considered a sport?

No, but the title of the thread doesn’t seem to ask if it is or not. I believe one is to assume that it is and list reasons why it is, or, in other words, what similarities exist between FIRST and (other) sports.

The problem with this question is that there are many different definitions of sport. Older definitions consider a sport to be a “game involving physical excercise”. Others define it as a “Physical activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively”. Neither of these definitions support robotics, due to its lack of physical activity. Yes, it has SOME physical exertion, lifting a robot, using the shear, etc., but in no way is this elongated and physically challenging in a way that it can’t be accomplished successfully by most people. In addition to this, there is no human physical exertion whatsoever DURING the match (maybe minus the human player). Thus, by these definitions, robotics is not a sport.

However, there are looser definitons, ones that basically state a sport is some kind of leisure activity. Obviously, robotics would fit into this. However, many other “sports” would then fit in to this which wouldn’t be considered sports. Examples would include sewing competitions, poker, and sure, for kicks, we’ll throw in underwater basket weaving . Through this, we can see that this is too loose of a definition, and thus, robotics should still not be considered a sport.

Third, my reference is Sports Law, a course at Cornell University. In their class overview, it states, “The concept of amateur sports includes a range of activities from an individual casual weekend athlete to high school athletics to extensively organized intercollegiate or international competitions. Athletic activities are often organized and managed by individual groups that establish rules for eligibility and competition, and courts are often unwilling to interfere with the actions of these groups as long as their rules are reasonably applied”. The international competition part could be used to support FIRST and robotics, however, while not specifically stated, it still seems to be implying physical exertion, due to the previous clauses mentioning athletes.

Finally, while Wikipedia isnt the MOST trustworthy, their opening paragraph puts it nicely:

“A Sport is all forms of physical activity which, through casual or organised participation, aim to use, maintain or improve physical fitness and provide entertainment to participants. Sport may be competitive, where a winner or winners can be identified by objective means, and may require a degree of skill, especially at higher levels. Hundreds of sports exist, including those for a single participant, through to those with hundreds of simultaneous participants, either in teams or competing as individuals. Some non-physical activities, such as board games and card games are sometimes referred to as sports, but a sport is generally recognised as being based in physical athleticism.”

To conclude, essentially all definitons of sport imply some kind of physical exertion, and i’ve shown that robotics does not have physical exertion DURING the competition. I suppose one could argue the 6 weeks is part of the competition; however, physical exertion is not consistent, repetitive, and/or uniform throughout the build team. Even the definitions that don’t include physical exertion are simply too broad and would consider too many activitites that we dont consider to be a sport, a sport.

As much as i love robotics, and sports, robotics is NOT a sport.


P.S. To Adam’s question, i don’t care too much. But, debates are fun, the OP wants to know, and im bored. :cool:

JJ’s definition of a sport

team based = check
more that 2 players per side
physical contact between players = check
low to moderate level of scoring = check
(hockey and soccer low scoring, foot ball moderate, basketball high level of scoring)
players and coaches can get penalties = check
Play on the field is fluid = check
Requires skill, practice and luck to win = check

PS i do not think that baseball is a sport. no penalties and not fluid. Tennis is not a sport, no physical contact. Cross country not a sport, no scoring just measurements (time, distance, etc).

You’re the only one that defines sport like this.

It doesn’t especially matter to me personally, but we have to consider what other people think about it. For instance, it might matter whether or not it qualifies as a sport according to a school’s funding criteria or extracurricular activity policy.

I would personally argue FRC is not a sport because the primary objective of a sports competition is either (a) entertainment or (b) to see who is best at the sport. The goal of FRC is neither. We do FRC to inspire and to be inspired.

Sports are self-absorbed and have no meaning outside themselves. FRC has greater aspirations and influences.

Cross country is scored, not measured, to determine the winner.

Here are a few more items that can be used in this discussion




Um I’m a driver and when I compete in high intensity matches and my hands start shaking I think that’s the adrenaline kicking in. This is especially true when you score the winning piece or block the best bot.