What is Your Sports History?


In the process of creating WellPlayed.US, my cofounder, Dan, and I got into a conversation about the number of sports we had tried in our lives.

I began to count and proudly reported the figure 24. It was hard not to be competitive and I secretly hoped that my “number” would be the winner. No WellPlayed.US wristband for me with that mindset.

Dan mentioned a few that he had tried and, more than once, I replied, “oh, I forgot that one.”

Then it was time for a bike ride. It was probably not my finest cardio moment because I had to stop three times to email myself lists of half a dozen or more other sports that belonged on my life list. (Age and short-term memory are not a good combination.)

There is a poll on the site that asks you the same question and I would encourage you to answer it before reading any further, but please come back after you have done so.

Welcome back unless you are peeking. By now you have decided that the real question is not how many you’ve played but what you consider a sport.

What makes an activity a sport in your mind? Please comment below or better still give us your list.

Was there a unique story surrounding any of them?

Here is mine, which I hope will continue to grow. 95 and counting.

Team Sports

  1. Soccer
  2. Hockey
  3. Lacrosse
  4. Football
  5. Softball
  6. Baseball
  7. Rugby
  8. Basketball
  9. Touch football
  10. Crew (rowing)
  11. Dodge ball
  12. War
  13. Triathlon (relay in my case)
  14. Stickball
  15. Bicycle polo
  16. Hall hockey
  17. Street hockey
  18. Kick the can
  19. Capture the flag
  20. Field hockey

Bat and Ball

  1. Squash
  2. Tennis
  3. Racquets
  4. Paddle Tennis
  5. Court Tennis
  6. Racquetball (sorry)
  7. Stické

Cold Weather

  1. Skiing
  2. Cross Country Skiing
  3. Figure Skating
  4. Curling
  5. Tobogganing
  6. Sledding
  7. Broom ball

Water Sports

  1. Swimming
  2. Wind Surfing
  3. White Water Kayaking
  4. Sea Kayaking
  5. Fishing deep sea
  6. Fishing fly
  7. Sailing
  8. Scuba Diving
  9. Snorkeling
  10. Water skiing
  11. Surfing
  12. Diving
  13. Tubing
  14. White water rafting
  15. Body surfing
  16. Stand up paddling
  17. Water polo
  18. Canoeing

Individual Sports

  1. Golf
  2. Track (are broad jumps, dashes and high jumps separate?)
  3. Bicycling
  4. Bocce
  5. Croquet
  6. Roller blading
  7. Boxing
  8. Mountain biking
  9. Race walking
  10. Scooters
  11. Frisbee
  12. Kite flying
  13. Archery
  14. Karate
  15. Paintball
  16. Kart racing
  17. Duck pin bowling
  18. Ten pin bowling
  19. Trampoline

Back Yard Sports

  1. Roof ball
  2. Badminton
  3. Tether ball
  4. Quoits
  5. Horseshoes
  6. Corn hole
  7. Marbles
  8. Shuffleboard

Outside Sports

  1. Hiking
  2. Mountain climbing
  3. Cross country
  4. Riding
  5. Ballooning
  6. Heli-skiing
  7. Rock climbing
  8. Trap shooting
  9. Skeet shooting
  10. Duck hunting
  11. Pheasant shooting
  12. Gliding

Lounge Lizard Sports

  1. Billiards
  2. Pool (surely 8 ball, bottle and straight pool can’t be separate)

Drinking Games

  1. Beer Pong
  2. Air Hockey
  3. Foosball



  • Haven Pell

    Haven: nice site, it’ll be fun to read. Quick aside: you may have conflated two sports into one.Those of us who were weaned on the French petanque may be uncomfortable with the Italian-centered focus! Be well, Paul [Mickey]

    The difference between bocce ball and the game of boules begins with their countries of origin. Bocce, the Italian game, is similar to bowling and is played on a flat lawn or on an earth-floored court. Boules, of French origin, is more like horseshoes and is traditionally played in public places on hard soil.

    • Dara Walsh

      Here goes!

      Using your list I can say these:

      Touch football
      Dodge ball
      Capture the flag
      Padel Tennis
      Court Tennis
      Water skiing
      White water rafting
      Body surfing
      Mini Golf (according to the wiki list of sports site below this counts! :)
      Roller blading
      Kite flying
      Kart racing
      Tether ball
      Corn hole
      Rock climbing
      Beer Pong
      Air Hockey

      After checking this list I can add:


      Handball (in a racquetball court, kind of like fives)
      American handball
      Table Tennis
      Ice skating

      And … Takraw which is a Thai/SE Asian game (although I can’t do the flips!)

      I think that brings me to 53. I’ve got a long way to go to 95+! Makes me think of all the places I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled to to play some of these sports, and also the great friends I’ve made along the way. Great exercise!

  • M. B

    A few things popped into my mind after reading this post.

    1) First thing I had to do was to go to the dictionary and search the definition of “Sport”. This is definitely a gray area, and I found different definitions of it. “A contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other” (Merriam-Webster.com); “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment” (Oxforddictionaries.com).

    2) Second question that came to mind, “then, what is considered physical activity…?”

    3) It brought to mind another article I read here about stone skipping and how it is not only a sport, but they also have organized club championships.

    4) Then, if I tried stone skipping against my father, would I have been playing a sport? I was competing against him (who threw it farthest), following a set of rules (we couldn’t step past an improvised line in the ground), and it was a physical activity (although minimal exertion). What about playing video games, like Guitar Hero for example? (Competing against another player, following rules, and doing some *minimal* physical activity)…

    Personally I never heard (or thought) of stone skipping as a sport before (same as with beer pong and others mentioned!)…. But maybe it is time I should reconsider my own definition of Sports.

  • http://www.wellplayed.us/ Dan Laukitis

    Ok, here goes… (does mental kayaking count?) I’ll try to be chronological:
    Swimming (butter, back, breast, free, medley)
    Tumbling – no reliable memories but mom verifies this was my entrée to organized athletics
    Fishing – maybe just a pastime in my case, though I recognize this now a college sport and profession for some
    Hockey (ice)
    Kick the can
    Capture the flag
    Downhill Skiing
    Water skiing
    X-country skiing
    Croquet – the kind I play now doesn’t much resemble what we played in the yard
    Badminton – was anyone ever keeping score?
    Hiking/trekking – sporting and intensely physical, but a sport?
    Basketball – probably my worst sport in terms of skill
    Dodgeball – as seen on The Ocho
    Flag football – and tackle too but never “organized”
    Diving (favorites: 3 meter full gainer, the “feagle”)
    X-country running
    Marathoning (Seattle, Madison, NYC x 2 – all with 5 mins of 3:35, no matter how much I trained)
    Track – 400, 800
    Ocean kayaking
    Roller blading
    Platform tennis
    Paragliding – on skis
    Parasailing (nothing says Spring Break like parasailing)
    Parachuting – tandem, solo tether
    9 ball, 8 ball, straight pool, billiards, 3 cushion, cowboy, bottle pool, snooker, “scratch pool” (the latter was made up in college but it had clear rules and was definitely competitive)
    Squash – singles, doubles
    Court tennis
    Racquets (aka rackets)
    Snow shoeing
    Mental golf (I’ll post about this one)
    Ping pong
    Pinball – I can defend this
    Beer pong
    Lawn darts (aka Jarts)
    Shuffleboard – standing
    Shuffleboard – table (various lengths)
    Using ball machine (tennis) and practicing on the range (golf) (again, I’ll say more later)
    Cliff/bridge jumping
    Air hockey
    Shooting – ground birds and duck
    Bow hunting – deer
    Ballooning- really? I can’t defend this
    Corn hole
    Trampoline – no, can’t defend this
    GoCart racing
    Target riflery
    Sledding – sorry, this just seems like an activity
    Tape ball
    Hall hockey
    Flick football
    Street hockey
    Driving – in NY sometimes this feels like a contact sport
    Ropes course

    A bit giddy with memories of each one of these – and those that didn’t make the list. Having gone through this exercise I’m a little clearer on what sport means to me, but it’s still difficult in many cases to draw a line between activity, game and sport. It would be interesting to draw some lines, make some hard decisions, and make a shorter, definitive list – but maybe that’s not the point. The point is to get thinking about not only what defines a sport or game but what we got out of it: fun, playing fairly by the rules, competition, and enjoying all those opportunities to see what we could do both mentally and physically, in various contexts, under various levels of pressure. Maybe being reminded of what we have gotten out of sports, or haven’t, might guide our thinking about how sports should be organized and played.

  • Haven Pell

    Uh oh, this is about to get complicated. Gretchen Reynolds suggests that sex is a form of exercise. Some have asked if it should be counted as a sport and, if so, whether different …. ahhhh… “approaches” or styles, if you will, should be counted separately. Romantics, not least readers of the NY Times Sunday Style section (especially Modern Love and Vows), will be angered by the requirement of competitiveness to constitute a sport, but they will not have considered the possibility of the participants in the activity competing with those who are not involved. So, ladies and gentlemen, can sex be considered a sport? http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/05/sex-as-exercise/

  • Allison Pell

    I can’t find the poll! Oh, this is Allison Pell.

    • Haven Pell

      Hi Allison, Thanks for taking the time to comment. Please add your life list as a comment. At the time I wrote that we did have a poll feature. Sorry for the confusion UH