Sports are usually classified by risk of contact between players. The more contact between players, the more risk of injury. Contact with other players is usually how athletes decide which sport is safe and which is not. When you watch a baseball game, there is minimal contact between players, but you will also see players dressed in protective gear. So which one is it? Is baseball a contact sport or not?
Baseball is considered a limited-contact sport, meaning players come into contact with each other and the equipment at some point during the game. Most baseball plays don’t require players to come into contact with each other, but there are some plays where contact between players is inevitable.
The concept of sports being contact, non-contact, or limited-contact can be difficult to grasp, so let’s look at what these terms mean.
|Contact Sport||Non-Contact Sport||Limited-Contact Sport|
|Definition||Allows or requires physical contact or force between participants||Requires zero contact between players||Contact between players and objects is infrequent|
|Sports Examples||– Boxing|
– American football
|Characteristics of Baseball||– Tag outs|
– Breaking up double plays
|– Physical separation of players|
– Playing in turns
|Brief/light physical contact rules:|
– Catchers must provide a sliding lane
– Baserunners can’t go outside direct path to initiate contact
What are Contact Sports?
Contact sports allow or require physical contact or force between players. The type of impact can include actions such as tackling, blocking or striking using players’ bodies or game equipment like a stick or a ball.
Examples of contact sports include:
- American football
Because of the nature of these sports, they are also classified as collision sports. That is why most athletes playing these sports have to wear protective gear such as helmets, mouthguards, or pads to protect them from regular forceful impact from other players.
In these sports, almost every play requires physical contact between players.
What are Non-Contact Sports?
Non-contact sports are sports that require zero contact between players.
Examples of non-contact sports include:
It is usually unexpected and unintended when players come into contact with each other in these sports.
What are Limited Contact Sports?
Limited contact sports are sports where contact between players and objects is infrequent. These sports usually have rules that set boundaries to how much contact is allowed or prevent it.
Examples of limited contact sports include:
Excess force and specific types of contact with objects can result in a penalty or disqualification from these sports.
For example, slapping a player’s arm in basketball results in a foul, loss of possession, possible free throws, and counts towards a running foul total that can result in being removed from the game.
With the above definitions, it should be easy to categorize baseball, right? Unfortunately, the debate on whether it is a contact or non-contact sport is still on. So, let us look at both sides of the coin.
4 Reasons Why Baseball is Considered a Contact Sport
In baseball, players usually have more contact with the ball than other players on the field, but there are a few exceptions.
When you watch baseball bloopers, you almost always see players colliding (which also makes the game more exciting).
Such instances during the game are why people argue that baseball is a contact sport. Below are some examples.
1) Tag Outs
There are many types of outs in baseball, but a tag out is the most common out where players come into contact with each other.
To record a tag out, a fielder in possession of the ball must touch a runner with the ball before that runner reaches a base.
A tag out is most exciting when it is a rundown. This physical contact between the two players is within the game’s rules. The touch does not require physical force, nor does it take a lot of time.
2) Home Plate Collisions
Runs are exciting to watch during a baseball game, but close plays at home can result in some severe injuries. Baserunners are usually at top speed, trying to get to the plate, where a catcher is waiting to catch the ball and take the player out.
This has resulted in forceful impact between players resulting in broken legs, arms, and other serious injuries. For this reason, people consider baseball a contact sport even though the players do not do it intentionally.
Major League Baseball also implemented the home plate collision rule in 2014 to minimize and prevent these violent home plate collisions. Some cheered the rule, while others considered it a knee-jerk reaction to catcher Buster Posey’s season-ending injury.
3) Running Over the Catcher
Blocking the plate was a common play in baseball used by catchers to prevent runners from scoring. This technique accounted for a lot of physical contact between players during the game and resulted in many star athletes being injured.
The video below shows how Buster Posey got injured in a home plate collision. This is when it was legal for players to run over the catcher.
Basically, the runner would run full speed at the catcher and forcefully collide. The goal of the runner was to get the catcher to drop the ball or miss the ball while the goal of the catcher was to prevent the runner from touching home.
In 2014, the MLB decided to ban catchers blocking the plate unless they have the ball. They must also leave part of the plate open because the rules state that a runner’s path to score should not be blocked.
Only the umpire can determine if blocking the plate is legal. They make the call on different factors, such as “did the runner make an effort to reach the home plate?”, and “did they use their upper body to make the catcher lose possession?”.
4) Hitters Can Get Hit by a Pitch
Most of the time when a hitter reaches first base, they can do it without any sort of contact. However, if the hitter gets hit by a pitch, they can take first base.
I know from experience that getting hit by a pitch is not fun, but at least that’s one form of contact in baseball that allows you to take first base.
5 Reasons Why Baseball is Considered a Non-Contact Sport
A non-contact sport forbids and punishes players whenever there is physical contact. That is why in many non-contact sports, players have designated areas in the playing area. For example, in tennis, each player is in their box on opposite sides of the net.
Some people consider baseball a non-contact sport because physical contact between players is rare, especially after the rules on home plate collisions were implemented.
Whenever there is physical contact between players in baseball, it is very brief compared to other contact sports.
The argument is that even though physical contact is possible in a baseball game, it can be avoided. It makes sense because even though contact is against the rules in other non-contact sports, it can still happen unintentionally.
Simply put, not all non-contact games are contact-free.
Let us look at the main characteristics of non-contact sports to see if we can put baseball in this category.
1) Physical Separation of Players
Most non-contact sports separate competitors entirely. This is done by making individuals play sequentially (like in bowling) or placing them in designated lanes (like running, swimming, or tennis).
Baseball separates hitters by enforcing rules to keep them inside the batter’s box. Pitchers must be on the pitching rubber and catchers must remain in the catcher’s box. And the defense must set up in fair territory.
2) Playing the Game in Turns
Some non-contact sports require competitors to take the field one at a time. In golf, for example, each player takes their turn on the golf course, thus limiting the possibility of physical contact with each other.
Baseball allows one team to hit and one team to defend. After three outs, each team switches places.
3) Game Structure
In some competitive sports (like bodybuilding, horse riding, archery, and ice skating), the nature of the sport rules out the possibility of any physical contact.
Baseball players are separated and take turns on the field. Most of the time, players are not within 50 feet of another player when the pitch is delivered.
4) Stricter Rule Enforcement
Major League Baseball is constantly reviewing its rules to offer players better protection.
For example, rule 6.01 (i) is in place to prevent players from attempting the blocking of the plate play.
Also, the organization is enforcing stiffer punishment for players who intentionally injure others.
5) Better Umpiring Methods
Several cameras around the park allow you to view the game from different angles. These help umpires call games better. For example, the extended instant replay rule allows umpires more time to determine if there are violations.
Several sports now use extra referees to verify decisions. For example, the video assistant referee in soccer is a team of three officials who the on-field referee consults when things are unclear. Teams can also appeal decisions when they feel cheated.
Baseball is also a non-contact sport because players only wear minimal protective gear during gameplay. But on the other hand, catchers wear a helmet and chest plate to prevent injury while catching pitches.
Players can wear helmets on the field (John Olerud), hats (optional, surprisingly), or cups during active play, but all are optional.
Why is Baseball Considered a Limited Contact Sport?
Limited contact sports have rules allowing brief and light physical contact among players.
Players are warned or punished when they break these rules by issuing fouls and penalties or removing the player from the game after several instances of illegal contact.
Some limited contact sports go as far as barring teammates from touching each other during a game.
From the definition above, baseball fits better into the limited contact sports category.
So, what are some of baseball’s limited-contact rules?
- A baserunner cannot go outside their direct path to initiate contact with a catcher or another player covering the plate.
- A catcher cannot obstruct a runner’s path to the plate unless they have a ball or making a legitimate attempt to catch a throw.
- Catchers must provide a sliding lane when receiving a throw to lower the possibility of a collision with a runner.
- Fielders can tag runners out by touching them with the ball or their glove (with the ball inside).
How Can Baseball Players Avoid Unnecessary Contact
The scary reality in baseball is that home plate collisions, getting hit by the ball, or running into the outfield fence can cause serious injuries, including concussions.
Although the game has rules around contact, players are responsible for avoiding unnecessary contact. They can do this by:
- Wearing protective gear – Batters and catchers must have the necessary gear to help protect them from getting hit by the ball.
- Avoid sliding head first – sliding is a technique players use to avoid contact with the catcher, but it is essential to do it right. Players can injure their head or hand if they slide head-first into the base.
- Avoid home plate collisions – the MLB has rules that ban blocking the plate to help minimize home plate collisions. Players must be smart and try to avoid the tag and avoid any collisions when sliding into home.
- Catchers should practice caution when catching foul balls – while focusing on trying to catch the ball, catchers need to remain aware of their movement. Many players have smashed into a fence while following the ball, resulting in broken bones and other head injuries.
Is baseball a contact or non contact sport? ›
It's not that the players are forbidden to touch, and it's not like there's anything you can do to totally eliminate all collisions. But baseball, at its core, isn't a contact sport. It's a bat-and-ball sport, part catch and part golf.Why do people say baseball isn't a sport? ›
One of the biggest factors that convince other people of baseball not being a sport is the athletes. According to some baseball definitions, those who play baseball even professionally aren't really athletes. To play baseball, you don't really need to be athletic. In fact, anyone of any age can play baseball.Why is baseball losing its popularity? ›
Game play. Part of baseball's popularity decline is likely tied to how it's currently played: less action, and fewer balls put in play.Is baseball a sport yes or no? ›
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each, taking turns batting and fielding.What is the least contact sport? ›
Non-contact sports are those where participants should have no possible means of touching, such as sprinting, swimming, darts or snooker, where players use separate lanes or take turns of play.What is the most contact non contact sport? ›
Non-contact sports all you need to know
- Table tennis.
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As Yogi Berra once infamously said, "Baseball is 90 percent mental; the other half is physical."Is baseball more mental than physical? ›
'' In the words of the late Yogi Berra: “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical. ''Does anyone care about baseball anymore? ›
Just 11% of adults listed baseball as their favorite sport to watch in a 2021 Washington Post poll. That put it well behind football (34%) and tied with basketball for the second favorite sport.
Is NFL or MLB more popular? ›
Historically, the national sport has been baseball. However, in more recent decades, American football has been the most popular sport in terms of broadcast viewership audience.What sports are declining in popularity? ›
Cross country, swimming and diving and competitive spirit registered the biggest decline in the past three years among Top 10 sports with a 13 percent drop.Is MLB the hardest sport? ›
Over the past one hundred and seventy-three years baseball has proven itself as the hardest sport across the globe due to hitting a baseball, fielding the ball, playing the game inside the game, and succeeding in baseball.Why do people enjoy baseball? ›
The cheering, the laughter and the sheer enjoyment that everyone feels is almost intoxicating. You can't help but catch on and feel the buzz. Baseball has the most amazingly loyal fans ever. There are teams that have never won anything, but their fans remain loyal to them.What is the most harmless sport? ›
Swimming is the safest sport to take part in. Its easy on the joints and can be an aid in recovery after an injury so making it the safest sport in America. A study by researchers at The University of Colorado Denver lead by PhD.What is world's safest sport? ›
- Table tennis – a sport as safe as they come.
- Golf – a leisurely game. ...
- Running – a solo sport. ...
- Volleyball – especially safe on the sand. ...
- Cycling – a great cardio sport. ...
- Table Tennis/Ping Pong.
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- Concussion / Head injuries: A concussion is a brain injury that occurs from a blow to the head. ...
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What did Mark Twain say about baseball? ›
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- Rowing. How tiring can a sport be if it requires you to sit for the entire duration? ...
- Water Polo. ...
- Basketball. ...
- Boxing. ...
- Australian Rules Football. ...
- Ice Hockey. ...
- Cross country skiing. ...
The other half is physical' This article was published more than 7 years ago.What sport is harder than baseball? ›
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“Ninety percent of the game is half mental.”
In his book, Berra took credit for this one. This quotation is also sometimes rendered as: “Baseball is 90 percent mental. The other half is physical.”
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Is the MLB losing viewers? ›
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Football - America's Favorite Sport to Watch and Follow
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1. American Football. American football is the most popular sport in America and is the favorite sport of 37% of the country. The NFL is also the most popular league and is supported by 55% of Americans.Why do most people quit sport? ›
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- Ice Hockey. If you enjoy the majesty of gliding over the ice and the thrill of smashing into other adults, you might want to pursue a career in hockey. ...
- Baseball. ...
- Soccer. ...
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Baseball is easier to learn, harder to master. That said, hockey fundamentally becomes a different sport in the playoffs and in different leagues. Baseball's more or less the same sport year round.What country loves baseball the most? ›
Hitting in baseball requires a strong mental game.
When you step into the batter's box, you need to tune out your thoughts and rely more on your instincts. Many players over-think their performance at the plate. Thinking too much in the batter's box will interfere with fluid mechanics and slow down your reaction time.
Keeps your brain active
Playing baseball requires you to make quick decisions. Mental focus and concentration are essential. You have to decide on the correct strategy to implement, and this keeps your mind alert and sharp. Pitchers, hitters and catchers all have to strategize when playing the game.
Examples Tennis, cricket, darts, bowling, volleyball, netball, squash.Can you play baseball with contacts? ›
Yes, you absolutely can wear contact lenses while playing sports. In fact, eye doctors recommend contact lenses because they are safer. Think about it. The lenses in eyeglasses can break and cause eye injuries.What is considered a contact sport? ›
Contact/Collision Sports and Activities
Examples: boxing, ice hockey, football, lacrosse. In contact sports, the person is constantly making contact with other people or objects, but with less force than in collision sports. Examples: basketball, soccer.
Definition of Contact and Non – Contact Sports
Examples are football, basketball, handball, boxing, judo, wrestling etc. Non – contact sports are sports that do not allow partial or full body close interaction between two or more opponents.