Free Essay

Not All Rhombi Are Squares

In: English and Literature

Submitted By prittenhouse
Words 881
Pages 4
Anthony Harrison

Prof. Carol Marion

ENG112-FJT12

11/1/11

Not All Rhombi are Squares: The Nature of Sport I am not a student of mathematics, but there is a maxim that has always intrigued me for some reason. The rhombus is a parallelogram, the perfect image of a kite. Its defining characteristics - four-sided figure with parallel and equal sides - are those which we immediately associate with the square. The square, however, is special. While it is indeed a rhombus, it has a certain distinction: the corners are all composed of right angles. Therefore, every square is a rhombus, but not all rhombi are squares. When I was a kid, my sister and I would always argue. One of the many topics fought over was whether or not she, as a ballet dancer, was an athlete. While I argued that she was an athlete, she remained vigilantly contrarian, stating that ballet was an art, not a sport. I couldn’t disagree with her counter, so she decided herself the winner, as always in everything. There are many arguments over what is and isn’t a sport. Cheerleading, fishing, auto racing, and golf are all bantered about in these kinds of discussions. However, just as the square is a very special rhombus, there is a certain distinction which distinguishes the sportsman from the athlete. While many activities require a great amount of athleticism, many cannot be called sports because of one thing: strategy. It is the major root of sport that differentiates a competitive game from fun or art. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines ‘sport’ as, “physical activity engaged in for pleasure.” The definition is admittedly vague, but does seem to make the necessary qualification of physical effort. For example, chess is a strategic activity which is “engaged in for pleasure,” but it is not a sport because of lack of physical activity. It’s the mix of fun and exertion which, by Merriam-Webster’s definition, idealizes sport. Still, the vague nature of the Merriam-Webster interpretation includes many activities which many people think are not sport. Since it remains aforementioned, I shall apply this thinking to ballet. Ballet would, to the certain rage of my sister, be considered a sport by Merriam-Webster. Not to say that they aren’t partly right. The art of ballet is most definitely physical. The poise and balance required by dancers is the result of phenomenal, physical training. My sister’s feet would blister and bleed and her makeup would wind up mostly on her leotard after a night of performing. Still, she was passionate about ballet, and found it fun. It was her creative outlet for most of her childhood and adolescence. However, ballet isn’t a sport. It is an art. There is no competition in The Nutcracker; no strategic thinking over how the Nutcracker Prince can more efficiently duel the Mouse King. It is purely performance. A sport is completely different. While there is certainly art in sport, such as a football thrown in a perfect spiral or Ben Hogan swinging a golf club, it isn’t judged by beauty; it’s judged by who defeats their opponent on the field, through both skill and technique. The quarterback must decide whether he should throw or hand off to another back. The shooting guard must decide whether to pull up for the jumper or drive into the lane. The batter must decide whether to go for the line drive or bunt to sacrifice himself for the betterment of his team. They are all decisions made under pressure, improvisation perfected by the experience of years of both physical and strategic training. I have recently been watching Ken Burns’s documentary Baseball, and was struck by the mental fortitude of Jackie Robinson. I had previously thought that Robinson was significant in the sport only because he broke the color barrier, but to my surprise, he was also an extremely talented baseball player. A six-time All-Star player, he was also the 1947 Rookie of the Year and finished his ten-year career with a .311 batting average. He did all of these things directly in the face of racial slurring, death threats, and being beaned by pitchers and spiked by base runners. However, by most accounts in the film, the pressures made him better, since according to fellow Negro League player Riley Stewart, “He knew that if he failed, then our people would fail, so he was determined to make it [in the Major Leagues].” I bring up Jackie Robinson to reemphasize the importance of strategy in sport. The competitive drive to be better than your opponent and how to do it is what makes a sport a sport and distinguishes a sportsman from an athlete. No ballet dancer, let alone any other athlete, has had to stand up to this kind of pressure, and Robinson did it valiantly while producing some of the most impressive play seen in the 1940’s. While a kite, a rhombus, can simply twirl about on the summer breeze, the square must be rigidly perfect to defy the rhombus and be a square. So is the difference between art and sport.

Works Cited
“Inning Six.” Baseball. Dir. Ken Burns. 1994. Netflix.
“Sport.” The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2011.…...

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