Is Surfing a Sport- Let’s Try to Settle the Debate-Is It a Pastime Activity


One breaking news regarding surfing is that it has been included in Tokyo 2020 Olympic. However, the news creates a mixed reaction among general people around the world. There are two reasons why this news was not so welcoming. First, surfing means overcrowding on a beach. In the recent, COVID-19 pandemic, definitely it’s not a desirable thing to happen on a scenic sandy beach.  And, second, many people still don’t accept that surfing is a sport. They believe that it’s a pastime activity rather than a competitive sport. Anyway, in this article, we will try to settle the debate regarding whether surfing is a sport or a pastime activity.

What Is a Sport 

Let’s first define what is a sport. When we try to get the definition of sport from the Internet, we found two different views regarding the matter. One definition is rather straightforward. It says something like a sport is an activity that requires the participant’s physical strength, skill, and that activity must be competitive in nature. In other words, you can declare an activity a sport when you can identify a clear winner among its participants.

The second definition we found in Wikipedia. This definition is not so different from the previous one that we have just mentioned. It says a sport is a physical activity that is competitive, entertaining, skillful, and is conducted by a set of rules. Wikipedia’s winner in a sporting activity is an athlete or a group of athletes who achieves an objective.

So Is Surfing Fit into Any of These Definitions?

We don’t know how do you interpret the first definition. But, we believe that the first definition fully supports that surfing is a sport. Why? Surfing is definitely entertaining. Why are there so many people enjoying it from a sandy beach? I read an article on surfing where I learned that in Hawaii, the USA, young people surf ocean waves to attract beautiful women watching the activity from the shore. And, when it comes to identifying a winner in surfing? Does the first definition support it?

Yes, we believe the first definition also supports that surfing is competitive. In a surfing competition, a panel of judges, give surfers points on a 1 to 10 scale. The surfer who executes the most spectacular skill to surf on the most critical section of a wave gets the maximum point. However, we found some sort of problem with Wikipedia’s definition. Particularly, identifying a winner. While surfing is a spectacular event to watch whether on television or from a beach, however, Wikipedia’s definition does not clearly help to identify a winner. And here the confusion remains and so is the debate. As we stated already, Wikipedia believes that winning in a competition means achieving an objective. Based on this definition, in a surfing competition, every surfer is a winner. It is because whether a surfer is a seasoned surfer or a beginner, he/she wins some points. There is no way you can declare someone a loser like in other competitive sports- like lawn tennis, running, or swimming.

Below Are a Few Strong Arguments That Substantiate That Surfing Is a Sport Rather Than a Pastime Activity.

Surfing is a solo activity. When you see someone is surfing with a good surfboard  on a big wave alone, and no other surfer around him, it may appear to you that he is enjoying something funny. However, below are a few points that may convince you that surfing is a sport.

  • There are many surfing events and professional surfing leagues that are taking place around the world. We agree that people enjoy surfing during their free time. But, it is also true that we play many sports as fun whenever we get some free time. For example, setting up a hoop in our yard, picking a basketball, and throwing it into that hoop. Another good example is cycling. Cycling is a competitive Olympic event. There is no shortage of international cycling events all year round. On the other hand, cycling is a great pastime activity too. It is a one form of exercise also that offers many health benefits including burning calories, strengthening lower body muscles, and improving the body’s balance.
  • We interviewed an athlete who is a professional footballer and a surfer. He opined that surfing is certainly a sport since the excitement of surfing and playing a soccer match is the same. He also argued that like professional soccer players, why are there many athletes who earn their living from surfing?
  • Surfing is not a relaxing activity. Do you think that reacting to a wave when someone surfs is somewhat pretty relaxing? Certainly not. An athlete requires good physical strength and training to surf spectacularly.
  • Surfing is both an art and a sport. When someone displays his spectacular surfing skill, it’s something like he acquires an artistic skill from years of practice. And why not you consider surfing a sport? The activity requires involvement of body muscles. One way or the other, it turns out that surfing helps to build good body shape.

Surfing is somewhat unique. While most of the sporting events are taking place on land and many of them in an enclosed area, surfers enjoy surfing in a vast ocean.


We believe it does not matter whether one accepts surfing as a sport or a recreational activity. However, at one point everyone will agree that it’s a spectacular thrilling outdoor activity that has popularity across the world.

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