On the nature of sport: climbing in focus

When I claim that climbing is not a "pure sport," one would be greatly mistaken to think that I mean this in any diminutive sense, i.e. as saying something like "climbing is merely an activity not a true sport."  I say this because climbing is more than a sport.  If anything, it's more like war.  I'm not trying to say that climbing is war, either.  I just mean you could die doing both.  Both necessarily involve the risk of death and/or grave injury.  No matter how cautious you are being as either a climber or a soldier, you can always just die for some reason beyond your control.  I grant that one can die playing a sport, but hey, let's face it, it doesn't happen that often.  It's a difference in kind, not degree.  Both climbing and war evoke primal survival instinct.  Perhaps some athletes can conjure this kind of adrenaline in intense situations, but it sure is easier when your life actually is on the line.  This makes climbing into a somewhat paradoxical activity: the more you put yourself at risk, the better you will perform.  You simply must.  You'll die otherwise.  Hard to feel like that on a tennis court.  But of course the more you put yourself at risk the higher the chance you'll die, so it kinda turns off the appeal of climbing harder.  People who improve as climbers–who "climb harder"–have the strange ability to be dumb enough to try riskier and riskier moves, but smart enough to know deep down their bodily capabilities.

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