This article is rated A for Awesome. This article contains adult language in a few spots. Parental guidance is suggested.

What is the definition of the word “sport?”

Dictionary.com defines it as

an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature,

What about the Oxford dictionary?

(noun) an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment:

How about good ol’ Noah Webster?

physical activity engaged in for pleasure (2) : a particular activity (as an athletic game) so engaged in

So it seems, we have a consensus amongst the academic world.  It’s an activity, involving physical exertion or a skill, usually in a competitive manner.

 

How does the Enid News & Eagle sports editor, Dave Ruthenberg define it?

“As a general rule, in my book anyway, any event that can be undertaken while simultaneously swigging a beer in one hand pretty much disqualifies it as a serious sport.  Sorry, horseshoes and darts players, but that includes your sports.”

Ruthenberg goes on to say, “Also, while we are at it, let’s apply that to any sport that requires the wearing of outrageous costumes to get attention — yes that means men’s figure skating, pro wrestling and roller derby.”

These are all quotes from his July 7th article, “Have a beer, but don’t call it a sport

Dave Ruthenberg

Dave Ruthenberg

I personally found these statements preposterous.  Now, perhaps ol’ Dave  was writing this story just for a laugh.  Maybe he was trying to stir something up.  Or maybe, Dave has no fucking idea as to what he is talking about.  After all, he wouldn’t be the first Eagle employee that had that problem.

First of all, let’s examine his first statement.  He said horseshoes and darts were disqualified because you could swig a beer while doing that.  There is a difference between competitive horseshoe and dart players and Jimmy Jack and Billy Bob playing darts in a bar.  But here is my issue….he turns right around in the next sentence and calls them what?  SPORTS!  You know why?  Because they are or could possibly be sports.  Can you swill beer while playing pool?  Yep.  Guess who Mr. Ruthenberg lists as his favorite athlete on his Facebook page?  Xiaoting Pan .  Who is that you ask?  Yeah, she’s a professional pool player.   But by his very definition, she can’t be in consideration….she plays pool!  She could….God forbid….drink a beer if she wanted to while playing. Keep in mind….sports editor here….no Barry Sanders, Kevin Durant, or Slingin’ Sammy Bradford.  No, Robert Griffin III.  No Sidney Crosby.  Xiaoting Pan.

So, now that we have completely invalidated his first statement, let’s look at the other one.  I’m going to concede that pro wrestling is not really a sport.  It’s a scripted event.  Athletic?  Yeah.  The things they do are very athletic despite sometimes the antics being stupid and even sophomoric.  So, I’ll concede the WWE to you Mr. Ruthenberg.  But the other two….I’m going to defend to the death.

Now, on to the part where he slanders men’s figure skating and roller derby.  Ruthenberg says in his article:

Want athletes? Watch the Olympics coming up or any of our major sports, and it should be pretty clear what is and what isn’t a serious sport.

Newsflash Ruthenberg:  Men’s figure skating is an Olympic sport.  And guess what?  Roller Derby is petitioning to be included.  Oh, and why just men’s figure skating?  Girls doing it is a sport?  But not men?  What?

To gain some perspective on this, Tuesday I went out to Skatetown to visit the local roller derby team, the Enid Roller Girls.  You’ve likely seen these girls (better said: women) out and about at local events or charitable fundraiser.  They always wear purple and have team shirts on that look like the advertisement over in the right hand portion of the screen under the sponsorship section (I’ll get to that later).  They’re always having a good time and enjoy getting out in the community to lend a hand when needed.

I sat down with the team’s founder and manager, Jme Jawbreaker.  Who?  Yes, I’m using their roller girl nicknames!  You know why?  Because that’s probably another thing Mr. Ruthenberg dislikes about roller derby.  I can see it now, “IF you use a nickname that makes it sound like you are in Death Race or Mad Max….you’re not playing a sport!!!”

For her part, Jme Jawbreaker, laughed and said she wasn’t too offended.  “It’s his opinion.  We know what it is and it’s very clearly a sport.”

Kelly Ripper and a few others were not as cordial in their assessments.  “His statement is an unfair judgement.  He probably watched “Whip-It” and thinks he understands the sport.”  She added, “As far as wearing outrageous things to get attention, athletes in other sports do it all the time.  Look at James Harden and his beard.”  She brings a valid point.  I’m sure at the beginning it was just something Harden thought would look good.  But then, people began saying “Fear the Beard.”  There were t-shirts to sell.  I also wonder if players like Dennis Rodman or Brian Bosworth ever wore something or changed their appearances to get attention on the field of play?  Nah.  That couldn’t be.  Dave Ruthenberg would have brought it up.  Skater Scream and Sugar said, “With all the pads and stuff we wear, what’s so outrageous?”  “I do this because I love to do it.  What he said was narrow-minded.”  I should mention….she’s a ninja.  I would not insult the ninja.

Another skater, Insane O Bueno, added, “It’s kinda hateful, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.  Our sport is a very physical sport.  You take a hit and have to get back up.  Take a hit.  Get back up.  There’s a lot of strategy to it as well.”  Indeed, strategy is an aspect that even I was not really aware of until I spoke with them.  Insane O Bueno is a pivot/blocker.  She calls plays and helps set the pace of the pack. After watching the practice for 15 minutes or so, I could see that it was more than just skating around in a circle.  There was a definite strategy and skill-set to it.

If Mr. Ruthenberg still wants to say it’s not a sport.  Fine.  But I’ll tell you what it is.  It’s a group of women, who get together 3 times a week to practice.  They have women with Master’s degrees on the team.  Multiple nurses, child care workers, a vet technician, someone who works for Continental Resources, and yes…stay at home moms.  MOMS.  Dave Ruthenberg is making fun of mothers.  Classy.  (Ok.  That might be a stretch, but not a long stretch.)

To top it off, the Enid Roller Girls are a non-profit group.  They are constantly doing community projects to help people out.  And 10% of the profits from the door go directly to a charity.  Recently, KOFM’s Alan Clepper skated with the Enid Roller Girls.  They assured me they hit him and made him earn his way around the track.  I straight up CHALLENGE Mr. Ruthenberg to do the same and then not call roller derby a sport.

dave ruthenberg

Screenshot of Dave Ruthenberg’s facebook page….it doesn’t not look like a sports fan’s page. (I blurred out any personal images)

I wanted to get some other point of views, so I asked Harry Hunt, the owner of Skatetown about the article.  He had missed it, but I showed it to him.  He laughed and seemed baffled by the comment.  “He must not be from up North then.  I’m from Minnesota and it’s pretty big there.  I played ice hockey and I can tell you, this is definitely a s port.  Sadly, after check, Mr. Ruthenberg is from Michigan, so yes….he is from up north.

So, what’s my point here?  I’ve asked myself if Mark Roundtree would have wrote this?  Would Jeff Mullin have written it.  Both of them former sports editors.  My answer immediately was no.   Would Bruce Campb….uh nevermind.  Do I think Dave Ruthenberg is a good writer?  Maybe.  Do I think he knows enough about sports to be a sports writer?  Maybe.  Editor?  No.  There is absolutely no way the guy in charge of the sports department should have written an article like this.  I mean, I was able to use his own words to reject half of what he said and the rest was easily written off as shitty logic.  Another thing.  On his Facebook page, he lists his favorite sports teams as the Oklahoma City Barons (ok….good choice), the Oklahoma City Thunder Girls (seriously?  a cheerleading squad, but not the basketball team?!  Wait…is cheerleading a sport?), David Allen Memorial Ballpark (ok.  That’s not even a sport.  It’s a damn destination!  A good one, but….seriously?), and the Midwest City Bombers football team.  Seriously?  No Enid High?  I think I can speak for all Enid High grads when I say, WTF dude?  Now, listen….Dave may very well be a great guy.  I hope he is.  And like I said, he may have been just having some fun.  But he offended people by essentially saying what they were doing was not legitimate in the world of sports.  This is typical behavior for the Enid News & Eagle.  For a long time, they wouldn’t even cover the Roller Girls.  They told the roller girls that if they gave them all the information they’d print it.  In true Snooze & Beagle fashion, most of the time they messed it up.  Again, typical.  Heck, Enid Enforcers owner Mark Timberlake had to practically BEG the Eagle for coverage, only getting it recently.  The team has been in existence for several years without coverage.  Oh….and that’s football.  It’s a REAL sport.

(Note:  The advertisement for the Roller Girls was added after interviewing them for this article.  After seeing and hearing all they do for the community, only to be slapped in the face by the Enid News & Eagle, I offered Jme Jawbreaker an ad spot for the rest of the season.  In addition, I will be at the final two home bouts in an effort to cover a sport that I honestly don’t know much more than I have learned from watching them practice and of course, from the movie, “Whip It.”  (Decent movie….the chick that plays Juno is in it.  Rent it.)

 

Correction(Jul 13 05:37pm): Mr. Ruthenberg does have more teams that he likes. Facebook just only shows me those same four. Everytime. Each and every time. You’d think it would rotate. Or show a “More” button for me to click to see them. Perhaps even fill in that fifth spot next to the Bombers. But I can confirm he does like other teams. Facebook just doesn’t accurately show them to people not friended I guess. Either way, I wanted to make sure that portion of the story was made clear.