A High Court judge is going to rule whether the card game bridge is officially a sport. The case has been brought before the court after Sport England, the organisation that allocates funding to amateur sports, said that bridge doesn't count because it lacks the physical requirements of a sport.
If recognised as a sport, bridge tournaments would become eligible for tax exemptions, making it cheaper to run tournaments and potentially lead to a growth spurt in the game's competitive scene.
According to Ian Payn, vice chairman of the English Bridge Union, who was talking to the Wall Street Journal, "[Sports England] refused to even consider recognising bridge as a sport. But neither did they adequately describe how you would define a sport. We’re challenging them to do that, bearing in mind this is the 21st century and not the 19th.”
Earlier this year, at a hearing that would determine whether this week's court hearing would take place, Sport England lawyer Kate Gallofent said “The starting point of the definition of sport is physical activity. Bridge cannot ever satisfy this definition. There is a difference between sport and recreation. I can enjoy sitting at home reading a book—it does not mean I can claim it’s a sport."
The Olympic committee ruled in 1999 that bridge and chess can be called 'mind sports' and the English Bridge Union would like Sport England to adopt the same classification standard.
If bridge can find itself accepted by Sport England then it would open the door to other 'mind sports', too. Potentially opening up eSports tournaments to similar tax breaks, making the UK much more welcoming to eSports.
Image Credit: Steven Depolo.