Is Hiking a Sport? No, Here’s Why

Some people ask if hiking is a sport. To me, the answer is no, but I can understand why some people might ask this question. After all, there are other similar sports like mountain biking and fishing, so why are those considered sports and hiking not? To understand if hiking is considered a sport, we need to take a look into what a sport is.

Is hiking considered a sport? No, Hiking is not considered a sport. Sports must have rules and regulations by a governing body and have competitive events. Hiking lacks these elements to be considered a sport. Hiking, however, can be competitive and incorporated into races.

Why Hiking Is Not a Sport

So if we look up what sports are, we will get slightly different answers. Most of them say what is similar to this:

an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

Definition of “sport” from Dictionary.com

I find this definition to be a bit generic. I think to better define a sport, it must have two requirements:

  • Rules and regulations by a governing body
  • Competitive events

By looking at this definition alone, you could say that hiking is not a sport because it lacks competition. This makes hiking more of a hobby or activity rather than a sport.

But wait, there is some competition when it comes to hiking. There are hiking records such as the fastest time hiking the Appalachian Trail and various other records like the fastest time hiking NH’s 48. Some may argue that you can even compete against yourself.

I think the difference here is that these are simply records. There are records for lots of things that aren’t considered sports. Just take a look through the Guinness World Records. You’ll find lots of crazy records like farthest distance walking on legos, which definitely isn’t a sport.

But what about sports like mountain biking and fishing? I can do those things without competing. Why are those considered sports and hiking not? With those activities, if you do them outside of a formal competitive event, it wouldn’t be considered a sport either, but rather a hobby.

Hiking Races and Competitions

Trail running on a hiking trail

While hiking isn’t a sport, there are similar events that are sports. Trail running, adventure racing, and geocaching can be considered sports. There are many events held around the world for these activities and they are sometimes televised.

I think though, hiking by definition, is not competitive. Hiking is about getting away from the busy city and out into nature’s wonders. It’s about working the body and resetting the mind. There are many reasons why people hike – for the views, the health, and the community.

Competition in hiking isn’t a big priority and the moment it does become one, it would probably turn into something else like trail running or adventure racing.

As someone who has done multiday adventure races (check out my About Page), I do like the idea of turning hiking into a sport. I can imagine some type of multiday race where races must carry their own food, supplies, and shelters along a specified route. Some events might have already been tried somewhere.

What do you think? Should hiking be a sport or not?


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