The “is it a sport or not?” debate vis a vis everything from women’s skiing to cheerleading has been ongoing for some time now … and there’s pretty much universal support for the fact that it is, at least when you’re considering teams that compete, not just shake pom poms around at a football game or something.
Which leads me to winterguard, a primarily female activity that’s become increasingly popular both in American high schools and at a competitive level.
When my daughter announced to me last year that, as a high school junior, she wanted to join her school’s winterguard team, I was pretty flummoxed. For one thing, I had only the haziest idea of what winterguard was … namely, girls dressed in odd-looking costumes waving flags around.
I soon learned that it was more than that. Much more.
For one thing, it entailed three hour practices two nights a week, daylong practices on weekends, and eventually competitions every weekend. Oh, and countless hours spent in the backyard practicing flag tosses.
The end result of all that practice, the concussions and chipped teeth and bumps and bruises collected by this team, looked something like this.
I was blown away every time I watched that show, and on a personal level, watching my daughter, who has a tendency not to try something if she’s not going to quickly and easily excel at it, blossom into a confident performer through an activity that was incredibly challenging both physically and emotionally was powerful beyond words.
She also dropped something like twenty pounds over the course of last year’s season, and she wasn’t a big girl to start with. The physical demands of winterguard left her not just bruised and battered, but buff as well.
But does that make it a sport?
Well, what exactly constitutes the word “sport”? According to an English teacher I know who specializes in …