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Russia's Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar helped Russia take gold during the team figure skating competition in Sochi. (AFP/Getty Images)

Double Axels And Death Spirals — Yes, Figure Skating Is A Sport

Feb 12, 2014 (Morning Edition)

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With the addition of team figure skating to the Olympic manifest, I wasn't surprised to hear from my grumpy old pal the Sports Curmudgeon. "Hey, Frank," the crabby kibitzer said, "when you gonna admit that anything that calls itself a sport that has music outside o' halftime ain't a real sport?"

Actually, there are other sporting defenders of the faith who are even more critical. They maintain that any sport — like figure skating, gymnastics, diving, halfpipe — that is resolved by exterior judges rather than by the participants themselves is not a true sport.

Boxing is not a true sport, I reply? Most boxing matches are determined by judges scoring, not referees counting to 10. Well, the critics say, that's different.

See, it's not easy to qualify what makes a sport a sport. My broad, more inclusive definition would simply be that anytime you compete in a physical activity, you have a sport. In terms of the purity of sport, I would say that the ultimate is when one individual goes directly against another, mano a mano — where you must not only compete, but compete against your rival's attempts to stop you.

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on this issue.

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