10 years ago, if you were to ask anyone what a sport is, you would think along the lines of active, physical activities you would be doing in physical education lessons— football, baseball, hockey, tennis, athletics.
But as the excitement and lineups around the Southeast Asian Games and the 2020 Olympics revealed, what people would have generally known as pure recreational activities (skateboarding, sailing, rock climbing) is now accepted as sports.
Case in point: As it became an official competition event at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, the highly competitive sporting scene is making waves.
That raises the question of when and how does a sport become a sport “officially?”
Let’s work from the top of our way. There is a long document, filled with numerous nuances and provisions, containing the accreditation process mandated by the International Olympic Committee or IOC.
Mickey Ingles, an Ingles Lauren Calderon sports attorney and one of the few Philippine sports law experts, broke the system into its simpler SPIN Life parts.
First of all, building your base is important.
“For example,[ if] you want to play a sport or invent a sport, you[ must] get a lot of people to play it and then give it a name,” he told SPIN Life. This culture must then become recognized and played enough around the world to need a Body called an International Federation (IF) to run it.
An IF, Ingles said, is required “for a sport to be recognised under the Olympic Charter.” Once a sport IF is established, it then asks for accreditation with the IOC to be accredited as an Olympic sport and eventually to be part of the Olympics — perhaps the world’s most prestigious sporting event.
Of course, the Olympics don’t need a sport. Even without IOC accreditation, it can continue to operate within its own culture. It is also important to recognize a sport at the level of the nation.
For instance, take rugby. In a telephone interview, Jake Letts, general manager of the Philippine Rugby Football Union, told SPIN Life about the importance of being accredited both locally and internationally.
“We can obtain considerable support by ensuring that we are approved at all grades… Have major collaborations to grow our game, “Letts said.