Buck's English: Is 'sports' singular, or are they plural?

Buck's English: Is ‘sports' singular, or are they plural?
BY GENE OWENS Published: March 17, 2012
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After The Oklahoman came home with honors for its sports section, Kelly Dyer Fry, its editor and vice president of news, commented: “Sports is our turf, and we back that up every year.”

“I'm confused,” said James Clark, of Ardmore. “‘Sports are' sounds a little jumbled, but ‘sports is' does also.”

In Buck's view, “Sports” may sometimes be singular and sometimes plural. He figures the vice president got it right. Opinions differ, though.

Buck views “sports” as singular when it refers to a general field of activity or interest. He would say “sports is my chief interest, next to grammar,” because he is not thinking of different individual sports but about the field of athletics in general. Fry was referring to sports in general as a field of coverage, and, as Buck sees it, was right to use the singular.

But when sports refers to a number of individual activities, it becomes plural. So Buck would say, “my favorite sports are baseball, football and bronc-riding.”

Buck thus places “sports” in the came category as “economics” and “politics,” both of which can be singular or plural, depending on context.