As soon as I read it, I knew I had to come up with a justification for making reference to this story on the IDYFT blog. And it seems we have but one self-imposed, loosley-enforced rule for content on this blog: it has to be sports-related. It can be sports/porn-related (Badcock's All-Nude Review), sports/nerd-related (Legion of Doom project), sports/social science-related (that nifty time our readers tried to convince us on the neutrality of the Confederate flag) or obviously about sports (just about everything else, esp. the Brett Favre post; the man who embodies sport more than any two heros from your favorite team).
It begs the question, though, how do we define sport? Or better put, what attributes must an activity have before we can elevate it to the regal status of "discussion-worthy" on this blog. Since illustrations are often the key to clarity and understading, we'll apply each rule to Mr. Sheehan's activity and determine if he was engaged in a sport worthy of our blog.
Rule No. 1: You Have to Sweat.
I do not mean incidental sweat. I do not mean sweat produced due to heat and humidity. I mean a genuine froth born of kinetic energy. I mean an artificial elevation of the body's core temperature requiring our natural equilibrium to turn on the human air conditioning.
Did Mr. Sheehan sweat? Yep. It was when he inserted a six-inch awl covered in electrical tape into his rectum. Probably every time he moved thereafter, too. So, when Mr. Sheehan had a six inch awl up his rectum and was plopped on a tree-stup gratifying himself, was he engaged in a sport?
While he did sweat, his froth was not born of the proper agitatation. Any sweat from Mr. Sheehan was almost certanly due to the intense pain of lodging a six inch electrical tape covered awl into his rectum. There is no question that would agitate, but it is not sports-based agitation.
Despite it's near contstant coverage on ESPN, Rule No. 1 dictates that the sweat born of pressure due to an "all-in" question at the World Series of Poker eliminates high-stakes card playing from the world of sport. The stink from card playing marathons doesn't get you there either.
Apply this rule liberally to avoid allowing sit-down activities to qualify as sports.
Rule No. 2: The Activity is Organized and/or Created Around a Scoring System.
The first three events in the invention of basketball were as follows: (1) James Naismith hung a peach basket on a wall; (2) James Naismith threw a ball into the basket; (3) James Naismith wondered how many points he scored by performing (1) and (2) (as any basketball historian knows, the hanging of the peach basket was eventually replaced with the three-pointer; hence the oft-heard reference to how players like Steve Kerr really could "hang the peach basket").
Was Mr. Sheehan's activity organized and/or created around a scoring system? Well, based on his decision to masturbate with a six inch awl inserted into his rectum while seated on a tree stump near a major mass transit system, my guess is that it was.
But, you need to look past the individual actor here to consider the base act: masturbation. Don't be fooled by the fact that masturbation can be more fun with a clever scoring system in place (great link here), because masturbation was not organized and/or created around a scoring system.
It gives me great pleasure to report that by failing Rule No. 2, NASCAR is not a sport. NASCAR has a scoring system, but it is not organic and is not even remotely clever (like at the above link). NASCAR is about driving your car with a predilection for left turns. The scoring system was imposed at a later date so we could market cigarettes and boner pills on the hoods of vehicles.
Apply this rule mechanically to the bring out the true nature of the underlying activity.
Rule No. 3: The Activity Must Involve Strategy
My dad is a dentist. In fact, he's a really good dentist. His talent, however, comes from pure repetition and a very high tolerance for sticking his hands in other people's mouths. Sure, if he were here he'd tell you that there is a strategy in the treatment of each patient to achieve maximum health. And you'd get bored and we'd start talking about football while he was droning on about calculus build up.
Really boring strategy isn't strategy at all; it's learned protocol. It's having seen everything a particular actor can throw at you and knowing the set of steps most likely to lead to an effective result. It's great organization without the need for innovation. It's responding to an actor without the capacity to present a new challenge.
Did Mr. Sheehan's activity employ a strategy? Uh. Well. Ok. I'll argue...yes. Yes, it did. I don't know what it was, but I will suggest that he lost since he not only got caught by the cops but he somehow managed to get charged with carrying a concealed weapon for having a six inch awl in his rectum.
And finally, due to Rule No. 3, power-lifting and shot-put are not sports (this does not include the constantly evolving challenges presented at the World's Strongest Man Competition, which indeed require strategy). Power-lifting involves the application of pressure to effect the movement of something that gets predictably heavier, and shot-put the effort to increase that application of pressure on a constantly weighted object. Constants. No change. Just get stronger and you win.
Apply this rule creatively to account for challenges evolving slowly over time or that are controlled by non-obvious actors.
Unfortunately, by these strict IDYFT standards, Mr. Sheehan's activity did not elevate to the level of sport. If only he were running in place atop that stump...