Is Racewalking a Sport?

Is Racewalking a Sport?


This has nothing to do with physics, but – Racewalking.
Here are the rules: Walk so that one foot is always on the ground and keep your front
leg straight. In short, do a funny walk, really fast. There’s
also something funny about the rules, though – the judges who determine whether or not
a competitor is indeed “walking”, are only allowed to stand stationary at the side of
the course and judge by EYE whether the competitors APPEAR to be walking. You’d think that for
a sport whose definition is so technical, they’d appeal to all possible technology to
enforce the rules. So is race walking stuck in the dark ages?
I mean, there are other sports that don’t allow referees to view replays, but when you
think about the electronics of fencing, the finish-line cameras of track and field, the
touchpads of swimming, and the 3D ball tracking and path-reconstruction of tennis… race
walking judges, on the other hand, seem quite pedestrian. They’re even forbidden to watch
from ground level or use such modern technology as binoculars or a mirror. So what’s up with all this perambulatory red
tape? If you look carefully at slowmo footage or
basically any photograph of racewalkers themselves, you’ll realize that pretty much everyone leaves
the ground… Not just occasionally because of a push or stumble, which is allowed – but
on almost every stride. In fact, it is WELL RECOGNIZED by the racewalking community that
most racewalkers regularly leave the ground and may even be in the air up to 10% of the
time… so EVERYONE is breaking the rules. Now, there are plenty of arbitrary rules in
sport… but the fact that most athletes break the traditional DEFINING rule for this sport,
is, to say the least… surprising. And this isn’t like the suspicion that almost
all professional cyclists are doping, because unlike our constant struggle to test and catch
dopers, we are well within the technological means to catch “ungrounded” racewalkers. It
seems clear that the technophobia in racewalking stems from the fact that if racewalkers started
using high speed cameras, they might no longer have a sport. And that brings into question the very essence
of sport – because all games, really, are just an arbitrary set of rules and limitations
that we submit to for the purpose of having fun and challenging ourselves. I mean, there’s
a reason that track and field forbids bicycles, cycling forbids motorcycles, and motorcycle
racing forbids rockets… Maybe those reasons are just as arbitrary
as racewalking’s ban on technology… because the goal isn’t to keep your feet on the ground
– it’s to see who’s fastest doing a funny walk, just like triple jump is to see who
can go the farthest doing a funny jump, hurdles are to see who can run the fastest with plastic
barriers in the way, and tennis is to see who can hit a ball over a net the best, but
only within certain carefully drawn lines and with a racquet and not a paddle or hands
or feet. Sport, ultimately, is not about the sport, but about the players and their struggles.
It’s about how far we’re able to push the boundaries of human ability… within the
boundaries set by the rules. So is racewalking a sport in denial, desperately
holding on to its past and blatantly refusing to accept technological advances that in principle
improve the judging of the sport, but in reality shake its very foundations? I don’t know…
but are racewalkers athletes? Most certainly.

100 Replies to “Is Racewalking a Sport?”

  1. This is not a physics question.

    It IS a sport, but a really dumb one. It makes no more sense than running backwards or on your hands. The purpose of racing is to go as fast as possible.

  2. A french guy broke the world record of that sport.
    I know this cause I'm french. But if I wasn't proud (wait … how can you be proud of that ?), I wouldn't give a fuck to that sport
    Hard Truth of Life …

  3. I don't understand why people are confused lol. It is a sport that has technique, it's not just "hey go walk" NO, there is a way You'er suppose to walk. It, in fact, burns a lot of calories (if done correctly). Also, the walkers have to walk on a long track and that would make anyone tired.

  4. My PE teacher says that video games, chess, and everything you can do competitions in is a sport. I don't really trust him…

  5. As a racewalker myself, it is a sport. Many people say it's not a sport, and people have even said that Track and Field isn't a sport. Everyone I know who racewalks takes it seriously. The definition of sport is: "an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment." And I can say that yes, you do exert A LOT of energy, and teams and individuals compete against each other in racewalk. Now I know that people won't agree with it, but thats my opinion. If anyone does take the time to read this, then I would just like to get my point out saying; PLEASE do not catcall at racewalkers!! We are not trying to impress anyone that is attracted to that racewalker. People who are racewalking are doing it for the sake of doing it, not to impress people or look sexual.

  6. Minutephysics dropped the ball on this one. Racewalking is in denial about outrageous flaunting of regulations. If the very definition was to move as fast as you can with a straight front leg and without a random judge deciding you are leaving the ground then fine. But the rule state both feet should be on the ground. Its like saying lets drug test all cyclists, but only use biochemical knowledge and lab equipment from the 70s. Basically racewalking as a sport is a joke. 

  7. Si supiera un poco el autor de este video sabria que si que hay perduda de contacto en la marcha, siempre, pero eso si esta permitido. Lo que no esta permitido es q se vea. Hay perduda de contacto pero esta perduda tiene q veres a simple vista. Enteraros un poco

  8. (Uptade) Now, in some of the major indoor volleball leagues, the captain or coach can request to roll the replay of the last rally if they consider that the judge have made a poor decision. And the judge can determine based on the replay if his decision was okay. Just saying…

  9. Hikers are athletes too, but the vast majority are not sports[wo]men. Being an athlete is not sufficient to be a sports[wo]man. According to some definitions, it is neither necessary nor sufficient.

  10. The best game ever is catch. Only worth doing with an undefinable combination of cooperation and competition. Enjoyable between players of widely mixed ability. No judges needed. And rules would ruin it.

  11. I think the argument made here is rubbish – a proper sport has discrete rules, the ball is in or out in tennis, the first person to get to the end of a 100m race unaided wins, they can crawl there if they like as long as they get there first !
    There are events like synchronised swimming and ice dancing that have artistic judgements, but I don't personally regard them as sports, they are shows in my view.

    The REAL problem with walking is that as you start to get good at it and speed up you effectively do a form of running and inevitably break the basic rules of walking – having a set of judges making arbitrary decisions pretending they can or cannot see it is ridiculous.

    I know that race walking is hard – but it's also a nonsense.

  12. The point is, that with high speed cameras in race walking, it would be impossible to walk as fast as we do know without breaking the rules. So race walking would be less exhausting as it is now. And then, it would definitely be no sport.

    btw: The rule says that "Race walking is a progression of steps so taken that the walker makes contact with the ground so that no visible (to the human eye) loss of contact occurs." That's why only a few race walkers break the rules.

  13. Racewalking isn't a sport. Sports are games; racewalking is a competition.

    Watch Vsauce's "Why Do We Play Sports?" to get as n explanation.

  14. This is an excellent video but I think the question is this ? If there are rules, why are they able to be enforced subjectively and arbitrarily by the 'human eye' of  judges ? It means that athletes (walkers) who have  trained for years  can be DQd by the subjective judgement of judges while other walkers, who may also be cheating are not DQd.  Kerry Saxby, who held many world records, and the current Chinese record holder, both break the race walking rules. How can the sport have legitimacy if the rules are not enforced objectively ?    See video 'Race walking or Race Jogging '

  15. Race walking would be a pretty cool sport if they did use some form of electronic device to know whether an athlete is leaving the ground during the race. To me that is the main difference between running and walking is the fact that in walking you don't lose contact with the ground and in running, you do. To enforce the rule about the supporting leg being strait seems ludicrous to me, if all through the races everybody is violating the contact with the ground rule. If they did enforce that rule the world records would all have to be changed, because ALL of the records were made while cheating.

  16. It pains me to see whenever I see race walkers do their strides. The amount of pain I'd imagine compared to a regular 5k race would be excruciating…

  17. Everyone in the comments needs to show some respect! I bet you us racewalkers can walk faster then you lazy people, just relaxing and hating on us.

  18. I believe it was Hemingway who said that there are only 3 real sports: bull fighting, motor racing and mountaineering, the rest are just games. so no, racewalking is not a sport;)

  19. Isn't sport defined as an activity where a single person or a team competes in organized events to win over one another in a set of rules designed to test their physical or mental skill? In this case, it should fall under the category of being a sport

  20. Arbitrary rules are at the heart of sport. Technology is problematic, partly because it would make it considerably more expensive and impractical to organise races, particularly in poorer countries.
    However, the subjectivity of the rules is a problem. The thing is that race walking is thing that can be recognised but can't be perfectly described, so the technical definition is imperfect. There is a vague threshold where, to me, a small loss of contact is still race walking. As a result, there is inbuilt subjectivity and the flaws associated with that. Even worse is that the judges are not judged or really kept in line to try and limit subjectiveness.
    I am a race walker and I, for one, do not get photographed or videoed breaking contact with the ground and, as a result, I am a bit slower. It is easier to go faster if you come off the ground. It is annoying when people suggest that all race walkers do it.

  21. is it fuck. let's face it, if it is, it's a pretty boring one. you won't be panting after a mile like you are in a 5k.

  22. DUDE Vox just ripped off your final punch line about the rules and athletes having to struggle with them. Unless you work for Vox..

  23. Why don't they allow them to be airborne for a maximum of 0.1275 seconds at a time and no more than 10.934% of the intire race as long as the leg is strait for a minimum of 0.362 seconds each stride and don't exeeds an average hight of 5.31 cm while cheeting. That way it's a lot easier for everyone to declare the winner.

    Or just have them pick up the milk on their way fooling about.

  24. I understand its place :
    1. It is not wise to just run around. Walking is way of self transportation. Speed walking and running is not energetically the same.
    2. From point 1: There are gazillion of different running events in athletics therefore introducing walking makes some sense. There are also lots of different kinds of events in gymnastics as well (includes strange stuff).
    3. I hate running.
    4. It is exiting to follow in 20x times normal speed and curling beats it hands down
    5. Arbitrary weird stuff is just cool.

  25. what picture will I use for "arbitrary rules in sports?" "Oh right quidditch exists. I'll use quidditch."

  26. when i first saw racewalking i thought that were a race for special olympics. This and curling are the most stupid olympic sports.

  27. Pretty stupid video mate..None of the other sports u mentioned go against your body's nature like race walking does

  28. no clue, I've never done this type of racing. But I do remember from my earlier days of walking and running some walkers that could do a full marathon in less than 6 hours, I still consider them awesome to this day 🙂

  29. I didn't know that! You're the best person ever and you are very very smart. Wait… shut your mouth 🤐 or I'll kill you. No,wait. Sorry. Just kidding.

  30. I hate to break it to you race walking guys/girls but there's a thing called running, you should try it you could run up to 30km/h but if you want to train to last longer there's this thing called jogging or a marathon. Idk if you guys/girls ever heard of it but it's an amazing way to improve endurance while still running fast.

  31. it's much easier to judge than to try. i tried long distances to run and to walk. that comletely different types of action. i enjoy both, but noticed recently that race walking improves your regular walking posture a lot. good luck!

  32. you know, you could say im a professional at race walking, i walk faster then my mom if i want too and my mom is 45% (visualy) leg (+leg attachment points)

  33. The one who created this video just managed to underestimate the training and the sweat of thousands of athletes. How reliable is the method of checking the rules can not support that it is not a sport. I admire these people because they are not just athletes but champions. And many racewalkers can do their "funny walk", as you said, faster and longer than the people that actually run.

  34. I don't think the majority of people slouched down onto one very important issue regarding this: the judges don't really judge if you cheated. They are there to determine whether you have a good, proper technique or not. You are being awarded for the proper technique and punished for lack thereof, not judged in regards to cheating.

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