Sport?31st August 2018
Cooler temperatures have encouraged me to hop upon on a bicycle that is left permanently on a bike trainer. It got so hot at times this past summer that this was the last thing that I have contemplated. Some may think that such an act would be dull but I avoid anything like boredom by catching up with some reading at the same time.
This has been how I came to start through my back issues of the Irish Mountain Log, published by Mountaineering Ireland and one of the few remaining news stand titles that feature Irish hill walking. However, the organisation also covers other similar activities like mountaineering and climbing in both its indoor and outdoor forms.
That may be one reason why its editor insists in calling outdoor activities that take place in hill and mountain country a sport but funding for outdoor activities can come from government sports agencies for whatever reason and Ireland is among those. For instance, the Irish Trails website is funded by the Irish Sports Council.
However, I don’t think of my hill wandering as being sport at all and I also find the expression alienating. To me, sport is a sterile thing with its focus on competition while my motivation for walking through the countryside is as much as about enjoying natural sights and sounds as getting some space to clear my mind. At heart, I am also an explorer so I like to see new sights too. It is about savouring surroundings and experiences rather than having a head filled with thoughts of conquest and victory.
The Irish Mountain Log does feature some of that so I would prefer outdoor-focussed activities to be called something more than a sport even if that attracts some funding. Mountaineering Ireland may support competitive events but they do include mountaineering and hill walking so my suggestion is that the label becomes “sport and outdoor activities” or “sport and outdoor pursuits”. The titles may be longer but they sound more inclusive and might incorporate better the social side of these activities that is important for so many in Ireland.