Why do consolidated performers keep going to competitions?

Edited: July 5, 2019, 10:21 AM · May be it sounds stupid, but what's the actual purpose of a competition?
To get your name up there? Get known?

I thought competitions were there so that really young players, like before 20's, have an opportunity to start shining from a very young age. But, people in 25's or so, that keep participating in competitions, why do they do it?

I mean, if you're a regular classical musician, by 25 you are so good performing (you probably started at 4-7), you probably have a superior violin degree already, you've performed many times, and you can become a teacher, a soloist, join a professional orchestra or anything. So, my question is, why keep examining or testing yourself?

For me, it looks like a naval engineer that every years keeps doing finals in different colleges all over the world. You are already an engineer, why do you keep going to finals instead of joining a company, start your own, become an engineering teacher, etc?

I don't say once you have a violin degree, you stop learning, not at all. Let's put it this way: an already physicist that starts studying a doctorate in some specific field is like a 25 YO already professional musician that starts studying with Vengerov. But then, a consolidated musician that keeps going to competitions looks to me like a physicist that keeps doing finals in different colleges.
I mean, I know it's not really the same, because normally, in physics, once you know a certain area of physics (fluid dynamics lets say), you don't find anything new about studying it again. Nevertheless, in music you can play the same piece, or should I say, study and perform it, and each time will be different.
May be better, it's like Einstein participating every year in a maths and physics competitions.

I'm sure you can enlighten me about what really a competition is.

Replies (58)

July 5, 2019, 10:28 AM · Competitors get valuable feedback from some of the very best players in the world. Also, it's a way of getting noticed, which leads to engagements for soloists.
July 5, 2019, 10:33 AM · Good question! I think you are wrong when you say,

'I mean, if you're a regular classical musician, by 25 you are so good performing, you probably have a superior violin degree, and you can become a teacher, a soloist, join a professional orchestra'

None of the above are true, except for gaining a degree and becoming a private teacher/small music school teacher. 99.9% (probably more) will not be a soloist, and around 90% will not make it into a professional orchestra.

I am 26 and have almost finished university, but I keep entering competitions because it is the easiest way to get a chance to perform. If you want to host your own concert, many things have to be taken into account such as venue booking, venue fee, pianist, publicty and advertising etc. With a competition, all this is done for you so the only thing you need to do is play! Pretty convenient. Also, it is the only way for a lot of students to get a chance to play with orchestra. I have never (and probably never will) been asked to play with orchestra, so I am grateful that competitions have allowed me this opportunity over the years.

So.. basically at age 25, most people are nowhere near experienced enough to be professional musicians.

Edited: July 5, 2019, 12:28 PM · Rather than comparing it to a physicist studying the same thing again I would liken it to the physicist completing and having PUBLISHED some new research in an internationally know "juried" journal.

Also the winners of some competitions get good performance gigs and some even get to use a top-of-the-line instrument for a year or more.

July 5, 2019, 2:19 PM · Two main reasons: you get a lot of stuff when you win a competition (and often just when you compete) and one gig leads to another. At minimum, in a big competition you get to play with orchestra and get some money. You might get an amazing instrument lend. You might get a recording contract or management. You will likely also get at least one masterclass or equivalent.

Being seen is critical and one gig truly does lead to another. The person who sees you at the comp invites you to perform solo with another orchestra or hosts you for a recital. You are invited to a summer program or to perform in a masterclass. One leads to another, and people who are building their careers need a ton of that before they can be financially stable.

July 5, 2019, 4:12 PM · Paul,

Victor nailed it. The competition at the top of any profession never ever stops. While musical competitions are formal affairs, professionals in every field have to produce papers, do research, get contracts to build that ship, building, skyscraper, develop a new microchip process.

I was recruited by Bell Labs mid career in Supply Chain Management. Why? I published papers, spoke at conferences, sat on committees, and all of that other stuff in addition to my "day job." That commitment to my profession never ended till I retired and decided that I didn't want to do that any longer.

Degrees and certificates are nice but the competition never ends until you decide you are no longer pushing the envelope of your profession. Once you graduate you will find that life is pretty much "finals" every day.

July 5, 2019, 4:27 PM · I did wonder too ... I think the age is a bit off. As far as I have seen many competitors are only about 19-21 or even younger and many of them don’t have a degree yet. What I rather wondered is how some apparently manage to play high level competitions AND work towards a degree. Ling Ling 40 hours indeed?
Edited: July 6, 2019, 1:02 PM · There are plenty of PhD physicists/chemists/biologists who have 10 -20 pubs in "good journals" and are going from postdoc to postdoc. Only a tiny fraction of them will obtain a tenure-track position in a research university.

I would say the the probability of a (good!) conservatory graduate wining audition in a 52-week orchestra is *lower* than that of a PhD getting a tenure-track position in a research university. The probability of being a soloist that people will pay to hear is lower still.

Edited: July 6, 2019, 8:25 AM · What David Zhang said. As a university chemistry professor, I will freely admit that nailing the job and earning tenure involved a tremendous amount of what anyone would call dumb luck. There are so many happenstance factors. Anyone who thinks they did all that by the sheer force of their industry and intellect is full of beans. We have so many clever slogans to defend pure luck -- "chance favors the prepared mind" (Pasteur), "knowing how to play the cards you're dealt" and so forth. And probably there's a lot of truth to that. But I think it's also dishonest not to recognize when one has simply been lucky. We admit luck very freely in our personal lives -- why not in our professional lives too?

Likewise I strongly suspect there are significant luck factors in orchestra auditions and violin competitions.

July 6, 2019, 8:27 AM · Coming back to the main theme of this thread, I think we commonly see at least a few players in their late 20s in competitions like the Queen Elisabeth, don't we?
July 6, 2019, 8:47 AM · There are risks in extreme cases, of course. Erick Friedman was already pretty well set when he entered The Tchaikovsky against his teacher’s advice. Politics gave him a low finish, which actually hurt his career because both he and the event were so famous.
July 6, 2019, 11:50 AM · The more you win the better your resume looks when you're applying for that Royal Philharmonic gig. That is certainly one of the reasons, lots of other reasons such as the ones stated above as well. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be the best at what you do, and being recognized as such. Isn't that why sports have playoffs?
July 6, 2019, 4:56 PM · So, then, why there are no 30's or 40's that want to be known, that is, go to competitions?

I don't have the stats, but from what I've seen in violin, piano, cello... almost all the participants are teenagers.

July 6, 2019, 6:05 PM · Because most competitions have an age limit of 30.
July 8, 2019, 3:39 PM · Oh... and why do they have age limits?

I mean, it's a competition, if you have the level and skills, even if you are 47, what's the problem?

We are not talking about a profession that requires you to be young, such as soccer, football, basketball... it's not a sport.

Edited: July 8, 2019, 6:43 PM · Music is not a sport, but I think playing the violin definitely is. If you are not at a professional level by the age of 30, it means you haven't figured out what you are doing wrong/not doing, and it's too late to be trying to win competitions.

On the other hand if you are 47 and have the skills, then you wouldn't need to do any more competitions.

July 8, 2019, 7:10 PM · I think that somewhere there are competitions for amateurs that wani rage limits. Sort of like the Van Cliburn but for violinists.
July 8, 2019, 8:43 PM · See this thread: LINK in which my teacher rants about the age limits on competitions.
Edited: July 8, 2019, 9:43 PM · James Dong, not at all. One can be at a professional level at age of 17, but don't ever apply to a competition because until his/her 35's, for example, was happy and comfortable in an orchestra or teaching.

Playing the violin, come on, is definitely not a sport. It's enough that I have to read eSports (yeah, something you do sitting in front of a computer has the word "sport").

I want no rants, it's simply that one of the thousands of advantages music has is that age is not a must for proper performance, age does not limit your performance at all, indeed at your "peak" of strength, between 20-35, you are considered many times immature, specially soloists. I'd say, with a few exceptions, that my favorite performances of soloist pieces are played by musicians way older than 30, sometimes 50's, 60's...

Age limiting makes sense to me in sports, you can't play football against 25-30 YO players if you are 45, your body, resistance and strength is lower than it was 20 years ago with the same training. But in music? Arts? Not at all.
I don't understand what's the problem with a 40 years old violinist that is as competitive and good as a 18 years old, if both want to get their name out there, record a CD, go soloist...

Edited: July 9, 2019, 5:04 AM · It does seem to be the case that some of us regard violin-playing as akin to a sport, which is to say an end in itself rather than a means to the end of making music or money. Even if one doesn't compete, one may set oneself goals analogous to "personal bests". Nothing to do with career prospects, just another reason for living. In another thread I suggested that nobody enters a violin competition for fun but maybe I should retract that.
July 9, 2019, 5:19 AM · Paul,

If any activity involves movement, then it is must be considered athletic. Even chess for example: the game requires no visibly physical activity, but older players almost always lose to younger players even though the older players have much more experience and are thus more mature. Why is this? It's because chess IS a physical activity and it IS a sport because mental stamina and processing time involve physical strain on the brain. It is considered a sport, that's why they introduced men's and women's categories because women have less physical stamina than men, just like in any sport. I admit I was wrong when I said playing violin is a sport, I just meant that it is an athletic endeavor. Of course men and women can play the violin equally well because the playing the violin requires only a finite level of physical force, unlike many actual sports. That being said, younger violinists definitely have an advantage over older people violinists when it comes to execution and consistency.

'between 20-35, you are considered many times immature, specially soloists.'
If you are a soloist, it means in some way or another you have a great deal of maturity. Of course we continue to mature as we grow older, but it becomes more and more difficult to accurately express musical ideas when execution levels are fading due to age. I think if you are not sufficiently mature by age 30, then it is unlikely you are not going to radically grow in violin playing maturity when you are 40.

'It's enough that I have to read eSports (yeah, something you do sitting in front of a computer has the word "sport").'
This is exactly the kind of cynical and emotional response that shouldn't be used in a discussion.

'I don't understand what's the problem with a 40 years old violinist that is as competitive and good as a 18 years old, if both want to get their name out there'
There is no problem at all with this! But do you actually know any 40 year olds that wish they could still compete with 18 year olds? Most 40 years olds I know just want to enjoy music, and pass on what they know to the next generation.

'One can be at a professional level at age of 17, but don't ever apply to a competition because until his/her 35's, for example, was happy and comfortable in an orchestra or teaching.'
Once again, I find this exact scenario to be extremely unlikely.

July 9, 2019, 5:38 AM · I just agreed with James, then he retracted! Of course like so many disputes it all comes down to the usage of words. I'd say "sport" is anything you do purely for the sake of physical or mental exercise
Edited: July 9, 2019, 6:22 AM · Well, first, the fact that one scenario is unlikely doesn't mean anything. If it has no sense to ban that scenario, no matter how unlikely it is, then you shouldn't ban it.

How many in their 60's decide to go to college to study physics?
I don't know, about 0.000001% of the students?

Yet, you don't see any kind of discrimination or limits against age in college. You do the exact same exam any applicant does, and if you are in the top, you join the college. Why? Because age doesn't matter, if you have the knowledge and are better than most applicants, you can enter.

About sports and stuff, let's clear thing out:

An athlete is someone that competes, not necessarily in sports, but in any event. I know we wrongly assume that athletes are those that practice sports at high competition level, but that's not right. An athlete can be a chess player, a cheff, a soccer player, a food competitive eater, a gamer... you name it, as long as there is international standard competition. We associate athlete with sports because historically, competitions have been all about sports, at least the more famous ones (Olympic games, Greece, etc...).

Movement does not imply athletes at all, competition implies athletes. Movement implies sport, but you have to be careful. Everything we do in life implies movement, even sleeping.

Sports are those physical intense activities, not necessarily competition, that require you to be in top shape, that means, you have to train and exercise physically daily. That's why in most sports, people from 20-35 are the ones in top level, because that's the age you normally are at your top physical level. Sports are all about your body skills, but in a strength, resistance way.

What happens is that most of the people mix or confuse "sport" with "competition". Even dictionaries. Even international committees:

The International Olympic Committee has recognized chess as a sport, or that's what I've read.
That's stupid, as stupid as calling "eSport" a competition of gamers playing PC games, as stupid as calling painting a sport, or acting, or playing an instrument.

Sport in dictionaries: an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of a competitive nature.
That's wrong, if you are in top shape and play football like a beast but don't compete, you are still practicing a sport. I say this because an athlete is someone that competes, although here the dictionary could be using a vague "wrong" meaning of athlete, which means "someone that practices a sport", which is quite bad if you want to define sport.

"The game requires no visibly physical activity"
Requires no visible or metaphysical physical activity, because there is not physical activity involved.

"It's because chess IS a physical activity and it IS a sport because mental stamina and processing time involve physical strain on the brain"
You are mixing again sports with competition. I don't know if what you say is true. If it's true, that only means that young brains can resist exhaustion longer than older brains. I guess you mean hours long competitions of chess. Well, it's still not a sport in the slightest way, it is simply a stressful competition, all in an indoor 1x1 meter table, a lot of pressure, a lot of thinking... All those things imply normally competition, but not at all sport.

If chess is a sport, so is being the president of USA, a politician, an actor, doing STEM final exams in college, studying high level physics...

"That being said, younger violinists definitely have an advantage over older people violinists when it comes to execution and consistency"
I'm not sure about that. Besides the fact that violin playing is way more things than execution and consistency, I think what normally happens is that young people practice a lot more, I guess. If you compare Itzhak in his 60's with Itzhak in his 20's, I guarantee he practiced way more in his 20's. I think that young soloists practice like beasts at their 20's, 30's, hence the difference in performance.

It also depends on what you are comparing. If you are comparing a violin "marathon" of 6h playing, of course exhaustion and physical skills are gonna be important, and young players will outperform older because of physical resistance. But if you compare 2 Paganini caprices, played by a 20 YO and a 50 YO, both practicing the same amount more or less, I can't see or don't agree why the 20 should outperform the 50.

July 9, 2019, 6:42 AM · Can you please give me your exact definition of 'sport'?

I don't see why chess or eSports cannot be considered a competition and sport at the same time. Both require daily mental training and physical conditioning if one wants to be the best in their field.

'Sports are all about your body skills, but in a strength, resistance way.' Is this your own personal definition? Why is sport not allowed to be about body skills in a dexterity or mental fortitude way?

July 9, 2019, 12:02 PM · I see where James is coming from. I think competitions are supposed to be about serving up talented people and giving them exposure that they otherwise might not have - If we believe in meritocracy, I think competitions are intended to be the quintessential meritocratic endeavor, even if in practice, politics often interfere.

Top violinists are outliers, and unheard of names in their 40s that are going to be top violinists are outliers among top violinists. Still...a man can dream. I believe there are a decent amount competitions for older folks. The big ones are not, which on one hand is pretty practical, and on the other hand, has a little influence from our society's obsession with youth. It's a really competitive world out there!

Edited: July 9, 2019, 3:40 PM · Yes, James.

Not at all "my opinion", it's not based on what I think alone, it's what the word means. Sport comes from "deportare", which means "to go somewhere" or "to take something from one place to another". Sport gave us words like "reporter" (someone that goes to different places to tell the news) or "deport", which means take illegal immigrants to their origin country, move one person from one place to another.

I already explained what sport means: an activity that is physically intense, where you are required to be in perfect shape and fit to properly compete against others; professionally, diets are carefully studied, all the calories measured, so you can break records as every little detail matters. That's why in the highest levels of all the sports, you only see people that are between 20-35 years, the peak of a human strength. I'll give you examples: tennis, badminton, soccer, athletics, basketball, volleyball, boxing, cycling, canoe, gymnastics, hockey, rugby, swimming, fencing, handball, martial arts, sailing, water polo, wrestling, snowboarding, skiing, skating...

There are some Olympic games that I don't consider sports because they are not, such as archery or shooting. Those are precision games, and sure, they require special techniques and even development of strength of some muscles, just like holding the violin with the neck is something you have to train, holding the bow, develop finger dexterity... but not because of that, music playing is a sport. These games are included because they attract people, money and are fun to watch, and the competition is there.

Are you serious? Playing a videogame in front of a screen a sport?
That's the most sedentary activity, ever, the most anti-sport thing you can ever think of, along reading a book or sleeping.

It makes me real sad that the "eSport" word is famous and widely used. Back in the day we called them tournaments or competitions. We live in a world that now nothing matters, no one cares about language, about why we use certain words, their specific meanings, everything is valid, no matter what. You can call "sport" to the ultimate sedentary activity, you can fake your vocal skills in a studio, fake your playing skills, fake everything...

In chess it's the same, call it stressful, challenging, with thousands of options... but it will never be a sport, you are literally sat down in a chair in front of a wood board, moving pieces. That is not and will never be a sport, but a board game. There are competitions for that board game just like there are for infinite things.

If you accept chess as a sport, then studying thermodynamics is a hell of a sport, it requires very high concentration, you need to have your mind cleared to understand all the complex terms and ideas, good sleeping, heavy vast knowledge of 10 years of maths and physics, it's very stressful because you have limited time, you have to pass exams where you don't know what they are gonna ask, deal with anxiety, depression, final exams in college can last 3 or 4 hours, etc...

Everything becomes a sport, and when everything is something, then it's really nothing.

Edited: July 9, 2019, 4:33 PM · 'If you accept chess as a sport, then studying thermodynamics is a hell of a sport'
Chess and video games are competitive activities, which makes them much more qualified to be sports than being a chef or studying thermodynamics.

The problem I have, is that you have created your own definition of 'sport'. You mention the origins of the word, but that proves nothing to me about the exact definition.

20-35 is factually the peak age for modern chess players, and even violinists from an execution point of view (I am sure many people here would agree).

You become so cynical about chess and eSports, saying that 'you are literally sat down in a chair in front of a wood board, moving pieces.' The physical items of a chair, board, and pieces are the least important things about the game. Comparing video game strategy and execution to faking vocal skills in a studio? In a discussion like this, I think that letting your emotions take over accurate definitions is not helpful at all.

'I'll give you examples: tennis, badminton, soccer, athletics, basketball, volleyball, boxing, cycling, canoe, gymnastics, hockey, rugby, swimming, fencing, handball, martial arts, sailing, water polo, wrestling, snowboarding, skiing, skating...'
I think that there is a big difference between swimming and tennis. Swimming is almost purely execution based, whereas tennis requires more mental adaptation to the opponent's strategy. Because tennis has a larger mental component, physical conditioning therefore becomes less important than in swimming.

I would give the following rough description:
Swimming: 95% physical preparation, 5% mental preparation
Tennis: 75% physical preparation, 25% mental preparation
Chess: 15% physical preparation, 85% mental preparation

I know I am not accurate in my percentages, since I am not a professional in any of those fields, but I think it's clear that all of the above sports nevertheless at least have both components of physical and mental. You are probably wondering how chess would be only 85% mental preparation, but in order for the brain to focus at such a high processing power rate, diet and physical exercise are very important, just like scales and shifting exercises are important for a violinist to accurate play the notes and optimally realize the composer's chosen notes/harmonies.

Edited: July 9, 2019, 5:21 PM · I would consider E-sports a "sport" but I wouldn't consider the players "athletes." To me, a sport is a mix of competition and motor skills.

Paul N, I've noticed you are rigidly attached to concrete ideas and concepts. It seems that you always want everything to be boxed in and properly defined, which is why you ask so many questions here. Please keep in mind that definitions are just human-based lines drawn in the sand. Most ideas in our society are morphing, shifting entities. Words can take on different meanings over time. Interpretations of religious texts morph to match the society in which they're placed. Musical styles change. This is part of a healthy, evolving world. Stagnation is death.

I feel you would benefit greatly from learning to "blur the lines" a bit and open your mind more; I believe you'd find that this contributes to your musical prowess in a substantial way.


EDIT: I do think age-limits on competitions are stupid, though.

Edited: July 9, 2019, 8:57 PM · I consider the origin of a word the most important of all definitions, and the only true fundamental thing you should look for. I don't like to blindly believe what dictionaries say, which are a representation, many times, of our ignorant society.

If a term is used wrong by many people, dictionaries will adapt and include that meaning, even if it's plain wrong. That's so bad and I refuse to accept it. I like to reason why a word means something, and it's very clever to look for these things, you learn a lot of things, and by deduction you can know the meaning of a word you've never heard of if you have a good base of knowledge and pay attention to why words mean what they mean.

Studying thermodynamics is as competitive as anything, you are required to pass high school, 10 years of maths and physics, get good grades so you are accepted at an engineering school or college, in the path do tons of exams... If that's not competition, chess is not competition neither.

You see? The problem with vague definitions is that everybody is entitled to their opinion, and all opinions are valid. The same way you explain why chess is a sport, I will explain to you why studying physics is another sport as well. Every singly thing you say about chess, I can I apply it to studying physics. Any.

You are cherry picking tennis and swimming, and I won't. They are sports 100%, and tennis do demand a perfectly nice fit body, with a lot of control of the racket, power, and you run a lot, look at Nadal. It's absurd to enter in a debate about which sport is "more sport" than other, that's nonsense. My examples are really clear and you got a nice idea about what a sport really is. Chess, playing videogames, throwing arrows or shooting are not sports. They are competitive, just like anything in life can be competitive, but that doesn't make it a sport.

By the way, the fact that in a competition, your performance improves if you are in a better shape, well, you don't say, anything in life is easier if you have an athletic body. Cooking is less exhausting, you will control the pans, and lift dishes and everything like nothing. You even sleep better if you are in good shape. That doesn't make sleeping a sport, or a competition. You should do some exercise, no matter what's your profession, sports are good for your health, and see? Here, when we talk about sports, we are not talking about videogames, that exactly the opposite of sports. It's crystal clear, I don't know why or with who I'm arguing anymore.

Erik, I like to open my mind when I think it makes sense. If you are trying to consider a sport a still, sedentary activity, sorry, my mind will remain closed.
We always, for everything, can say "oh, you simply need to open your mind". OK, let's play to open our minds. Killing is not good or bad, and I will celebrate rituals and sacrifices with human beings. I think Gods deserve it and a human life is nothing, there are 7 billion. If you say I'm crazy, poor close minded, you simply need to open your mind and learn that what you've been taught about killing is not an absolute truth. I will even dare to say you're so disrespectful if you don't please Gods with human blood.

Edited: July 9, 2019, 10:05 PM · I'm interested in what you mean by a "consolidated musician" and/or what your definition of the word "consolidated" is.

"'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'" - Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

July 10, 2019, 5:38 AM · 'It's absurd to enter in a debate about which sport is "more sport" than other, that's nonsense'
It's fine for you to think that it's nonsense, but in a discussion like this I think it's important to always explain exactly why and how you come to your opinion, with facts and logical comparisons rather than blanket statements.

What is confusing to me is that you continue to put cooking, sleeping, and chess in the exact same category, just like you put swimming and tennis in the same category. And when I point out differences, you say that I am cherry picking - fine, but you acknowledge nonetheless that there are fundamental differences in how both sports are played right? An overweight cook can definitely cook to the highest standards, but an overweight chess player will never even come close to winning any tournaments ever. The more physically prepared swimmer will always come out on top, but the same cannot be said in tennis. Federer is 37 and still competes at the highest possible level, but a 37 year old swimmer has absolutely 0 chance. In exactly the same way, I don't believe Rubik's cube solving and chess belong in the same category of gaming.

'Every singly thing you say about chess, I can I apply it to studying physics. Any.'
For me, studying physics comes into the same category as swimming/cubing, and not chess/tennis. It requires no live, in the moment mid-game adaptation to an opponent's strategy.

'OK, let's play to open our minds. Killing is not good or bad, and I will celebrate rituals and sacrifices with human beings. I think Gods deserve it and a human life is nothing, there are 7 billion.'
Why do you always feel the need to make fun of other people's ideas and take it way too far?

I guess I do retract my retraction, and say that the physical act of violin playing is indeed a sport, being more similar to swimming than tennis.

July 10, 2019, 10:54 AM · James, I've concluded that Paul N likes to be provocative, and possibly thinks that he can prove that he's smarter than other people by taking contrarian positions against well-established well-reasoned orthodoxy -- the kind of person who likes to mock others for being "sheeples". Engagement just feeds the troll. By contrast, I reckon that David K, in some small ways, can at least be reached, since his goal is to be seen as a great player, while Paul N's goal does not seem violin-related.

Competitions in the violin world have goals that have nothing to do with the goals of the entrants but everything to do with the goals of the organizers and sponsors. Those people typically want to find people whose solo careers it will be profitable to promote. (Some of the winners may also eventually go onto to win concertmaster positions.) Which players will sell tickets and fill concert halls? Which players will cut Grammy-winning recordings? There's usually the assumption that by the time a player is in their 30s, if they were going to have a breakthrough -- a rave review in a major newspaper, an amazing recording, etc. -- it would probably have happened already. Players in their 20s can generally just lock themselves in their room and practice, practice, practice; players in their 30s generally have to do something that generates income, and may have familiy responsibilities as well, preventing them from being 100% devoted to improving their playing and preparing for the competition.

July 10, 2019, 12:47 PM · Irene, consolidated means someone that has proven can play like a soloist, and indeed has played several times as a soloist with a professional orchestra.

James, I've not only explained the word sport, I made a list with dozens of examples. It's pretty clear what is a sport, and what is a competition.

You wish an overweight master chef can perform as good as if he or she was in perfect shape. I told you that even sleeping is affected by your health and physical condition, it affects every single activity we do.

You also seem to miss almost every single example I make. I put chess and sleeping in the same category as "not a sport", nothing else. Now you're trying to say that I mean chess and sleeping require the same skills or whatever?
Please... I just said chess is not a sport, just like sleeping isn't, or reading, or studying physics.

I neither intended to mock you or anybody in any way, another missed one. I simply said that if you are gonna come up with the "open your mind" thing, you better prepare to me bringing it up as well, to defend something YOU believe is wrong (killing), but by playing your rules, I will say you just are close minded. That is not mocking, that is using your same logic to put you face to face to something you strongly believe is bad (I guess).

If playing chess is a sport, so is doing maths, fluid dynamics, thermodynamics, mechanical problems... you move physically the same (which is none), you are required to exercise the same (which is none, and that doesn't mean you're fat), all the great mathematicians and physicists of history are not obese at all, quite the opposite, it requires tremendous effort, thinking, understanding of 10 years of maths and physics...

You talk a lot about adapt to the opponent. Well, studying is a personal sport, your opponent is the problem you are trying to solve, which can take, even with vast knowledge of everything, days, weeks or years. Problems can be very complex, or very simple, but require immense work, strategies to solve them, different paths, thinking outside the box... So yeah, you have to adapt to each problem individually.

And no, I'm not a troll or a provoking person, what in heavens. I see someone calling chess a sport, I disagree, as simple and straight forward as that. I see someone claiming things they can't prove, I don't believe them. There's nothing troll about thinking by yourself and believing what you can actually demonstrate. Calling someone names, or troll, thing you've done with me several times, but I'm OK, I'm not mad at you, is something that demonstrates a lack of reasons.

You believe chess is a sport, fine, go ahead, as I said, nothing matters anymore, we all have opinions and all are equally valid, that's a golden rule of today standards. I've told you why chess is not a sport at all, but a competition. You are free to "believe".

July 10, 2019, 1:43 PM · https://www.lifewire.com/types-of-internet-trolls-3485894

I vote #2 with a bit of #9

July 10, 2019, 3:38 PM · Funny how someone who is so insistent on words having a specific meaning is using "consolidated" in a way I've literally never seen it used before.
Edited: July 10, 2019, 5:32 PM · I'm sorry if I use some terms wrong, by "consolidated" I mean something you've proven to be easy for you, that you can handle, since you've already done it. I do believe and think that this is what that means, someone that is "solid" at something, you stand there. Why are you saying this?

"This type of troll loves a good argument. They can take a great, thoroughly researched and fact-based piece of content, and come at it from all opposing discussion angles to challenge its message. They believe they're right, and everyone else is wrong. You'll often also find them leaving long threads or arguments with other commenters in community comment sections, and they're always determined to have the last word – continuing to comment until that other user gives up"

Yes, Timothy, because saying chess or videogames are sports is a thoroughly researched and great fact based piece of content. I don't come from any weird angle, I come straight forward and say they are not, and indeed I will say they are the least sport thing you can do, it's purely sedentary. I'm sorry for trying to explain myself with long messages, explaining the origin of the words, putting examples...

May be we should evolve once and for all and make the discussion section a Twitter thingy. Nowadays everything has to be short, meaningless, and quick, or your head will blow up.

July 11, 2019, 3:27 AM · I played hockey and football (soccer) and did a lot of cross-country skiing as well so for me a sport has always had movement and proper fatigue which you will feel even after many years of practice. For many it's their personal experience which gives definition to the word.

Now to add more fuel to the fire: not everyone playing a sport (physical) is an athlete, not even close... They may be a prizefighter but so many players in team sports are so one dimensional and out of shape I have a hard time considering them an athlete.

Edited: July 11, 2019, 3:38 PM · J I, that's not adding fire at all. You are basically saying that not all sport players play in competitions, which is so true.

Athlete means to participate in a competition, and we normally associate, for a very good reason, athlete with sports. That's because most of the competitions, historically, have been about sports: running, javelin, discus thrower... ancient Greek, basically. But as I said, a chess player can be an athlete, a chef too, a math competition participant too.

Considering someone an athlete is not a hard task. Are you participating in a competition? If yes, you are, if not, you are not.
What is a competition, you would ask then?
Well, I guess any competition reviewed by professionals, internationally or nationally rigorous, with strict standard rules about the game, to make the competition fair and not random. If you create a football competition between your neighbors, you are not an athlete. If you play football, you are playing a sport for sure, but to be an athlete you have to join the NFS.

July 12, 2019, 1:22 AM · Paul N, That's correct about the general definition of an athlete. I should clarify what I meant was that people playing sports professionally at the highest level are always referred to as athletes but their physical performance might not be all that impressive. To me an Athletic person has great speed, strength, endurance and is very skillful at many sports.
You can be a world record bench presser but if you have to catch your breath walking up stairs...

July 12, 2019, 6:08 AM · Yeah, I kind of agree with you.

Well, look, what normally happens is that everyone, from a banker to a physicist, finds beneficial being in shape. If you are a math teacher, or a chess player, even if your activities are not at all related with sports, you benefit from being in shape, you will have more energy, feel stronger (well you would be stronger), and overall perform better because everything you do will feel way less exhausting. Even going shopping will be easier, walking, waiting stand up...

A body builder definitely practices a sport, but I can see how to a balanced sport athlete it may seem a little... controversial. You can lift 200KG but can't run for 1 minute?

I guess those are side effects of competitions, you only focus on the rules of the sport you're practicing. It's like trying to enter in a STEM MIT. You will only focus on Chemistry, Physics, Maths... Competition makes you forget about everything that doesn't count. But, in the end, those that are well balanced are the ones that make a difference. Einstein loved music, he played the violin, and most of the great minds have a lot of interest in things that are not "their field".

Your definition of an athlete in sport is really the objective, and indeed it is: most professional sport players practice several disciplines, Nadal played soccer, most soccer players practice tennis, golf... It's all about balance.

Anyways, enough with the off-topic, hahahaha.

July 12, 2019, 6:35 AM · Paul N, it is certainly an interesting topic and there's lots to discuss! To tie it back to music, being in shape as noted is also beneficial for a musician (not only health but aesthetics too. Many listen with their eyes as well) and the more instruments you play the better you are all around. Like you said, imo finding the balance here will allow you to maximise performance in the main instrument because there are too few hours in a day :)
Edited: July 12, 2019, 9:04 AM · I too would never even think of chess as a sport since you say it is sedentary. I suppose I only started calling it one because it is officially recognised as both a game and sport. Then I started thinking about how on earth chess could possibly be a sport! What is strange to me about chess is in terms of results, it is very similar to regular sports; men always defeat women, fit men always defeat overweight men, and younger men always defeat older men. Since much research has shown that men and women are equally as intelligent, this leads me to believe that chess must be very physically taxing, and that being a fit young male is literally a requirement to become a top player. I was extremely surprised when I first heard that chess tournaments were divided into male and female categories... Basically if you are born female, you literally have no chance of becoming world champion, just like in swimming, which sounds so incredibly stupid for a board game!

On the other hand, a female chef, overweight chef or an old chef should (given a reasonable time limit) be able to produce the same quality result as a fit young male chef even if it means they will be more exhausted after time is complete. A fat old female chef should (or at least has the potential to) match the ability of a fit young male chef, whereas the same scenario in chess would absolutely not lead to a similar result.

Just food for thought...

Edited: July 12, 2019, 10:02 AM · Yeah, I also want to ask that very same question to a friend of mine that is so into chess. I also discovered recently (few years ago) that chess also divide categories between men and women, and as a board game, I find it quite illogical. In sports I find it very useful to balance teams and make the competition fair, but in a board game?

I know there's that score called "ELO" for chess, but I'm not sure why you said most men defeat women. Does it really happen?

Since there are different categories for men and women, I though they would never face officially in a tournament, a man vs a woman. I also don't understand why a man would perform better in chess, since it's a strategy-intelligence game, and I think you can't really say men are overall better than women in intelligence or strategy, can you?

It's like violin playing, I really can't say men are better than women or viceversa, and competitions are not sex differentiated, which for me makes all the sense in the world. In competitions in where force, strength, height and speed are crucial, I understand why you would separate men and women, but in the rest of the competitions: maths, chess, physics, magic, show, music...

About the food "competition". You are talking as if the competition is to make "that one dish", and no other rules are applied. You forget about the time limit, quantity of dishes... My point is, if you are fit, you will perform way better inside a kitchen. Not that the fittest chef will win the fat chef, but that the fat chef will perform better if he or she is in shape. Having a nice body and being healthy is not at all aesthetics, it's life: more energy, more strength, more force, more speed, more force of will since you practice that, more fun, stand pressure, more agility, you do more things in the day, you feel less tired, everything becomes easier, hot days are not so bad, you don't reject plans or events because you are tired or you won't be able to do them... besides all of that, yes, you are more attractive and aesthetically an athletic body is way more appealing (it's healthier), for both sexes, but I find that the least important thing about being fit. The most important thing is that you perform better at everything, compared to a you "out of shape".

July 12, 2019, 10:06 AM · Is this really just a dispute over what a word means? Not many generations ago sport was all about hunting, shooting and fishing
July 12, 2019, 10:58 AM · This is a silly conversation, but if you're going to claim that the original use of a word is the proper definition thereof, then you should know that "sport" is a contraction of the Anglo-Norman "desport," which means anything done for recreation or diversion from serious duties. That would include chess, fishing, walking in a park, drinking with pals, etc.
Edited: July 12, 2019, 2:32 PM · 'I'm not sure why you said most men defeat women. Does it really happen?'
Yes, out of the top 100 there is 1 woman who is ranked 94 and the next best is ranked in the 200's.
Actually there is no men's category but only a women's category + open category. So a woman can compete with a man if she wants, but a man can't do the same vice versa...

'In competitions in where force, strength, height and speed are crucial, I understand why you would separate men and women'
I have a suspicion that because the game is so mentally taxing, the brain frantically chews up energy resources from the body since it is such a demanding organ. As a result, the physically weaker player has a huge disadvantage. You might be thinking that in a long 5 hour game, of course men might have some kind of advantage, but in speed chess the women suffer even more and don't even make top 100 since in speed chess the brain has to work even harder and expends body resources much faster. For me this is enough to prove that chess is a sport.

In violin playing however, men and women are absolutely equal despite it being a physical activity because the physical effort required to play a standard length concert or create the loudest possible sound on the violin is not much at all.

July 12, 2019, 5:51 PM · I hate to add fuel to this, but there could be another reason, - I suspect there are neurologists on here that could discuss this more authoritatively, but men and women have different strengths to their intelligence. E.g., men have better spatial awareness, women are better at reading facial expressions. I consider myself intelligent, but cannot use strategy more than a few moves ahead to play chess . I suspect that this kind of gender difference has more to do with it. I really don’t think we are any more exhausted by concentrating on something than men. E.g., I know of several women surgeon that are skilled at marathon surgeries which is both a physical and mental challenge.
July 12, 2019, 5:51 PM · I hate to add fuel to this, but there could be another reason, - I suspect there are neurologists on here that could discuss this more authoritatively, but men and women have different strengths to their intelligence. E.g., men have better spatial awareness, women are better at reading facial expressions. I consider myself intelligent, but cannot use strategy more than a few moves ahead to play chess . I suspect that this kind of gender difference has more to do with it. I really don’t think we are any more exhausted by concentrating on something than men. E.g., I know of several women surgeon that are skilled at marathon surgeries which is both a physical and mental challenge.
July 14, 2019, 7:49 AM · Hi,
I guess any form of DANCE would be sport/art,then?

Cheers

Edited: July 14, 2019, 8:52 AM · Paul N: "Not at all "my opinion", it's not based on what I think alone, it's what the word means. Sport comes from "deportare", which means "to go somewhere" or "to take something from one place to another". Sport gave us words like "reporter" (someone that goes to different places to tell the news) or "deport""

Sorry to intrude, but this etymology of the word "sport" is totally wrong, as is obvious from the missing "s" in deportare.

Also, sport is not about going from one place to another.

The semantic link between "sport" and "reporter" is begging for some explanation, too. Unless you're thinking of a sports reporter.

"I like to reason why a word means something, and it's very clever to look for these things, you learn a lot of things, and by deduction you can know the meaning of a word you've never heard of if you have a good base of knowledge and pay attention to why words mean what they mean."

Well, what you're doing with "sport" is called a folk etymology, and those usually point in the wrong direction, such as here.

The more persuasive etymology of sport comes from the old French "desport" (which provides the necessary sibilant), the English "disport", which in both cases point to pleasant leisure activities, which is what sport used to be. One is reminded, too, of the frase "a sport and a pastime".

Edited: July 14, 2019, 9:56 AM · Well, dancing is a physical activity, that's for sure, but I don't think it's a great idea to call it "sport". When I say dancing I mean ballet, of course. Sport is not "any physical activity". If it was that, then hammering nails and making IKEA furniture would be a sport, or any profession that requires physical exercise: farming, most countryside activities... Dancing is an art that requires a lot of physical exercise.

Usually, sports are objective and straight forward: which team have the highest score, which athlete finished first... time and scores rule the sports. How do you score an art?
You can't, by definition, since art is 100% subjective, specially in the high levels.
If you want to beat Usain Bolt, all you have to do is finish before 9.58 seconds.
What would you do if you want to beat "this ballet interpretation"?
Nothing. In sports, competition is fundamental, and possibly the main stone that holds everything together. In arts, there's no competition, you can't measure art, which is what makes art so special.

Herman, I see you are looking at sources that are from 1400 or so, and I'm talking about latin, ancient Rome, dating 700-500 years before Christ, so about 2000 years before. I think it's enough off-topic though, this is not a language forum, hahahaha.

Edited: July 14, 2019, 10:12 AM · "Herman, I see you are looking at sources that are from 1400 or so, and I'm talking about latin, ancient Rome, dating 700-500 years before Christ, so about 2000 years before. I think it's enough off-topic though, this is not a language forum, hahahaha."

Most Latin sources are actually of a much later date than the one you mention. 700 - 500 BC is probably the era of the Iliad, which is the oldest written Greek source.

A lot of modern words have their etymological root in medieval times.

As I pointed out before, your "deportare" etymology doesn't make sense for two reasons. One, there is no sibilant. Two, sport doesn't have the transitive moving aspect that deportare has.

July 14, 2019, 10:15 AM · "How do you score an art?
You can't, by definition, since art is 100% subjective, specially in the high levels."

The irony is you started this topic about competitions. Ergo, one can try and measure artistic excellence.

Edited: July 14, 2019, 11:02 AM · Ironic that people mentioned ballet. Judging ballet artistry can be subjective, but there is a huge emphasis on technique (objective). Physical aspects make or break careers, and the competition to become a ballet dancer can be soul-crushing.
Edited: July 18, 2019, 4:02 AM · Yeah, because art competitions are like competitions: there's a winner. The problem is it's not at all like a regular competition, mostly sports, because art is not measurable. One judge can say the vibrato was too wide, while other say it was perfect. You can't see those things in sports like running, soccer, etc... the scores and marks are clear as water.

The moment you introduce art and "technique", the competition gets quite subjective. There are no metronomes, no goals, no hits, no distances... you can beat "that" 1967 world record mark by finishing the race sooner, by scoring more goals... but you can't beat "that" 2017 performance of Brahms violin concerto. That's what I meant.

It all got confusing when we started to talk about sports instead of the topic, which I don't know much about and I was reading what others that know a lot more than me have to say.

Frieda, I don't think in ballet, just like in any other art, you can measure objectively a performance once you are dealing with professionals. You can compare Vengerov to a 8 years old kid and tell for sure that the little kid can't do vibrato correctly, and it will be objective. But once you're dealing with violinists that have been 20 years playing seriously, it's all then a matter of personal taste. Not an expert at all in ballet, but I'm pretty sure it will happen the exact same thing.

Edited: July 20, 2019, 12:42 AM · In many sports, there's subjectivity when you're judging people at the top, including tennis. Given a criteria that's specific enough, you can be "objective." The issue is, what are those criteria?

I'm not saying ballet should be regarded as a "sport," but I wouldn't dismiss it as a matter of "personal taste" either. Ballet requires extraordinary athletic skill and training. It's closer to your (and other people's) definition of sports than some of the other activities mentioned in this thread. Artistry at the top is subjective, but you're also talking about a very small group of people who are able to perform at an objective standard.

July 18, 2019, 9:09 AM · Lots of talk about sports and other subjects, but indeed, to get back to the original concrete question: in my understanding, for the great majority of participants in violin competitions, their main motivation to participate is quite plainly to get solo performance opportunities with decent orchestras, accompanists, and knowledgeable audiences. Such opportunities, paid or not, are not that abundantly available as you seem to suggest.
July 18, 2019, 10:30 AM · Yeah, Jean, may be I am assuming that. I've not studied violin through a professional music school or University or Conservatoire, but I guessed that the students, specially those doing a major or something like that, would play a lot in public, soloist repertoire of course, but also accompanied repertoire.
July 18, 2019, 12:07 PM · Yeah, Jean is right, and Paul, your guess is almost completely wrong. Sure, conservatory students might do a once-a-year or once-a-semester performance but such performances often barely qualify as being "public" -- it's typically more performed in front of a handful of friends and sometimes music students who are obliged to attend X performances per semester. Kids probably get a bigger audience at their studio recitals if they are in a big studio where all the students and their parents come to the yearly/semester recital. And that's very different than playing in front of a knowledgeable audience.

Most repertoire recital is played accompanied (by piano), rather than solo. There's a fairly high chance that it's done on just a single rehearsal. The quality of those pianists can vary a lot. (Even if the pianist is decent, their familiarity with the violin repertoire might be very limited.)

And most violinists, including professional violinists, will never get a chance to rehearse or perform with orchestra, outside possibly the context of competitions.

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