My sport is harder than your sport?


Jokingly a friend asked the other day why I only liked hard sports. Actually, that’s not the way she put it. She asked if I’d considered anything easier than road cycling.

I said I also liked rowing. She laughed. Then we both laughed.


At Aikido, we often talk about Aikido’s status as a “lifetime to learn” martial art. Progress is often slow. You can stay for a long while at a certain rank and not everyone who trains every week, for years on end, makes it to black belt. I’m finding that Aikido requires a lot of patience and steady dedicated practise to progress.

So yeah, I like challenges. And all the tough things. And different kinds of tough.

I especially like tough grueling workouts. See Why are painful workouts so much fun?

But I don’t usually mock other activities as easy. For me, it’s true I think that walking as a fitness activity is something I’m saving for my later years. I often talk about switching for Aikido to Tai Chi when I’m a senior citizen. But to each her own. I saw the image below, comparing road cycling to football, come through my newsfeed. I smiled. But I didn’t share it with friends. That’s not my kind of competition.

How about you? What do you think of these sorts of comparisons?


8 thoughts on “My sport is harder than your sport?

  1. I don’t even understand these comparisons or why they’re considered funny. In general I like to avoid comparing, which to me is always at someone else’s expense. There are better ways to feel good about myself. And it’s a privilege to have choices about which physical activities to engage in.

    I too like a good challenge. But people are challenged by different things and in different ways. I know cyclists like to think of their sport as a sufferfest that’s only for the very tough. That strikes me as a form of elitism that makes it less welcoming to new people. Anyway, people should enjoy what they enjoy and do what they do. Everything has something to recommend it.

    1. It’s the endurance sports with a strength component that seem to generate these memes, so rowing and cycling. Also sports whose workouts feature intervals. Usually the rivalry is with team sports that have a macho reputation, so football. It’s an interesting dynamic. Doesn’t speak to me either and I love tough stuff, love rowing and cycling. So I’m curious about this and where it comes from.

      1. Definitely seems like a macho thing. Part of that cultural standard: be the best! We are number one! Maybe in cycling it’s to overcome the emasculating affect of spandex.

      2. And a response too to the incredible pressure on men to play aggressive “fighty” sports such as football and rugby.

  2. Sports, like people, are different and what is fun (or hard) for one person is the opposite for another. I get a little crazy at every Olympics when I check the comments section under equestrian results. Yes, the horse needs talent – but it doesn’t do all the work. Riding well, even just doing flat work at the walk and trot, can leave me mentally and physically exhausted after an hour. My goal is to make 1200 lb of wiggly animal with a mind of its own do what I want it to do. It mus be perfectly shaped at all times, and I can’t look as though I’m giving any guidance to the horse, which means my bod position and my aids must be perfect too. I love it! That inner focus on perfect body placement for maximum grace, speed and strength is what attracts me to swimming and ballet too.

    Contact sports though? Never! And repetitive sports like running or cycling just seem dull to me (though I acknowledge both may involve details that casual observers like me are missing).

    1. Agree that individual sports–race against the clock versions especially–are deadly dull to watch. Like watching a fitness test! Yawn. Give me interaction and strategy, please.

  3. I have tried to leave my extreme exercising behind with my anxiety.

    I practice yoga for exercise. All sorts of yoga. From hot power flow to ashtanga to yin. I also live yoga, using the philosophy to guide my life.

    If you aren’t into yoga you might think all I do is sit and Om. The intense side of me wants to show you just how hard and hot and demanding a hot power class can be. To prove I am still tough.

    But why? To validate my own choice. Which only I can do.

    I am forever trying to convince others to consider yin yoga. To sit still and feel their body and their breath. It is probably the hardest thing I have learned to do.

    We should all do what feels right. I know, if only life were that easy. Lol

  4. Really important not to judge one sport vs. another. I have said that cycling is easier….on your knees long term for going hundreds and thousands of km. in a lifetime. I do know several marathoners, who have found cycling easier when their knee(s) needs surgery/can’t be solved to 100% normal.

    For instance, I find it very interesting that the West doesn’t have widespread competitive table tennis or badminton. Yet, very popular in Asia. I watched a Canadian national table tennis champion who was going to compete against national champs from Asia…. can most of us here claim the lightning speed reflexes, dexterity and precision required to play this competitively for several hrs.???

    Or try non-competitive hackey-sack, beanbag foot kicking….. for an hr. or so.

    Male gymnastics and male ballet + competitive figure skating probably got appreciated by the professional ice hockey players when some were paired in the national Canadian TV series of pro. ice hockey player with an Olympic Canadian female figure skater for a tv ice figure skating routine.

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