Home | Writing Samples | Sample Three
A thing is what it is and not another thing, and it doesn’t become something else when its name is changed or it is described differently. This principle is absolute; it applies universally, even to ballroom dancing.
Yet there is a persistent confusion about just what ballroom dancing is. Is it a fine art? Is it a sport? It cannot be both, but it can be neither. The answer to this question is not to be found by searching dictionaries for definitions. It can only be found by closely examining the activity along with all of its ancillary doings and then comparing what is found to the doings of both fine arts and sports.
My own impression is that some have begun calling ballroom dancing a sport in the mistaken belief that it may then become as popular. And I suppose the analogy they see is the common physical activity of both. One can slide easily from exercise to aerobic exercise to dance, but that is a trap even though some people may dance for exercise. Physical activity is not the defining characteristic of anything, for almost everything we do involves it.
What then characterizes sport? For most sports, it is the scoring of points in a definitive way. One crosses the goal line in football, crosses the plate is baseball, sinks the ball in basketball, nets the puck in hockey, gets the ball on the ground in your opponents part of the court in tennis, crosses the goal line first in a race. Of course there are a few exceptions, the most important of which are gymnastics, figure skating, and diving, although many people are as unsure about the status of these as some are about ballroom dancing.