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Is Bridge a sport?

The EBU continues to argue that bridge is a sport and Sport England that it is not. The case is going to judicial review after Mr Justice Mostyn, in April, answered Sport England's case that “The starting point of the definition of sport is physical activity, bridge cannot ever satisfy this definition” with “If the brain is a muscle, it does – you are doing more physical activity playing bridge, with all that dealing and playing, than in rifle shooting.”

The EBU clearly want to be eligible for a share of Sport England's grants. Sport England see it as their remit to get Britain fitter.

Given that this blog is called "Thought sports", and that I am clearly very interested in competitive mental pursuits, you might expect me to argue for the inclusion of bridge as a sport. But I am afraid that it does not seem very sensible to me to argue for a word's meaning to be extended to cover things which most people who use the word don't mean when they use it. My title is a metaphor.

Instead, in an ideal world, the Government would allocate some funds to be shared around chess, bridge, Scrabble, perhaps even sudoku. Maybe not crossword solving. A very small disbursement of public funds in these areas would go a long way to promoting activities beneficial to intelligence, in my view - and the same applies to private funds, dear reader with a sponsorship budget.

And the judge's ignorance is disappointing if he thinks the brain is a muscle. Also given that competition bridge players never have to do any dealing, 'move between rounds' is the only exertion other than picking up and putting down cards. So I think even rifle shooting trumps it.



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