Tom Venuto's

Is Bodybuilding a Sport?

Tom Venuto

Is bodybuilding a sport? Every so often I see an argument on a forum or a comment on a blog where some critic claims that bodybuilding is not a sport. Not only that, more often than not, there is usually some derogatory comment along the lines of, “Oily men in speedos a sport? come on!” In a recent interview with Kevin Larrabbee and Leigh Peele of the Fitcast show, I was asked this question and I gave a (mostly) serious answer. Listen or read the transcript below (2:30 minutes of audio)

Click the play button on the audio player below to listen:


QUESTION: Tom, there have actually been some debates on the forums about whether body building is even a sport at all; whats your response to the people who say it’s really not a sport?

ANSWER: I guess it depends on your definition of a sport. I know some people who say poker is a sport. I would call Poker a game, but hey, if you want to call it a sport if you’re a poker fan, more power to you,, I mean it’s just a label.

But depending on your definition, bodybuilding may or may not be a sport. So call it a competition if you prefer, because I don’t think anybody can argue with that. In fact a lot of us in bodybuilding use that word competition bodybuilding a lot more often than we say the sport of bodybuilding.

I call it a sport, because to me it’s my sport and I think that if something has a physical component and there’s competition involved, then it’s a sport. Bodybuilding has that. Some people say, well that’s not a broad enough definition, there has to be skill, there has to be athleticism, but who gets to decide the definition of skill or athletisism? The Olympic committee? High schools and universities? Some all-wise, all-knowing authority? Who gets to decide. Why don’t we just decide for ourselves and call it whatever we want to call it.

I think that some people would argue against bodybuilding being a sport because they say the judging is too subjective. And for sure there is a degree of subjectivity but in bodybuilding the criteria for scoring are very very clear. It’s not vague like some people think it is, the criteria are very specific and easy for a professional to judge just by looking at the physique.

Sometimes the decision is close, but how is that so different is that from something like diving or gymnastics? There’s a panel of judges watching a diver dive or a gymnast do a floor exercise and you look at the scoreboard and you see all the judges don’t give the same score do they? Why can’t they all give the same score if the criteria for winning are cut and dried? So there’s subjectivity in those kinds of sports too.

I think it’s a silly debate and I don’t think the debate will never end. I consider bodybuilding to be a competition AND I consider it a sport and beyond that, I consider bodybuilding an art. And it’s an art in more than one sense of the word – because the process is an art and end result is art too.

Related links

Leigh Peele

The Fitcast Show

Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle: Fat Burning Secrets of Bodybuilders and Fitness Models

Published on 02 November, 2009


Mariela said:

Well said! The point is that every sport is also an art, or has some artistic component, because design and performance are involved in most human activities. I think in Bodybuilding the "art to sport ratio" (if we can call it that) is greater, but it is still a sport because there is physical activity even though it is "behind the scenes".

Posted on Nov 03, 2009 10:05 PM

Fitness Weights said:

Very well put! The fact that a body builder and football player work the same way. They both train, they both have a sense of accomplishment and a goal. The amount of time that body builders put into shaping their body for a competition can be categorized anyway you see it. The fact remains that it's a sport of it's own.

Posted on Nov 05, 2009 09:19 AM

Juan said:

The funny thing is that the majority of people who says that bodybuilding is not a sport has never been there, on the stage, knowing how true-hardwork feels, and how much desire and dedication you need to just step on there. Those guys don`t know how hard is to improve symmetry, not just put muscle mass here and there, and how hard to have 6 or more meals a day every day, the right and positive attitude, lift weight correctly, rest, etc.etc.etc. Those guys, the majority, would never know how it feels to be 3.5% bodyfat and contest ready, something that money or their mediocre comments will not buy. Peace

Posted on Nov 07, 2009 01:56 PM

GASP said:

Even chess is called a sport, so why shouldn´t Bodybuilding be called a sport?

Posted on Jun 17, 2010 09:33 AM

Thomas | Bodybuilding 2.0 said:

Definitly... Bodybuilding is a sport. But more than that. Bodybuilding is a lifestyle.

You have to train, eat and live right to be a good or perfect Bodybuilder.

To my mind there is no question wheather Bodybuilding is a sport or not. It is the hardest sport on earth.



Posted on Aug 29, 2010 06:54 PM

Bodybuilding said:

Of course bodybuilding is a sport! Like you said, it should be considered a sport because it involves a physical component. Also people who vehemently argue that it is not seem to be have something against bodybuilding. What would be the point of arguing that bodybuilding is not a sport?

Posted on Feb 17, 2011 12:02 AM

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