Is Chess A Sport?
Sports (or sports), like any other recreational activity, is a lot about the fun you have along the way. Sports are defined by the Collins English Dictionary Tenth Addition as “the sport of a particular group of people.” It therefore includes “any kind of athletic competition” but more specifically it means “the sporting of arms, bodies, or both.” In fact, sports refer not only to organized sports but also to unorganized games and competitions, such as archery, paintball and high-level competitive wrestling. Sports are universal and are accepted and encouraged not only by most people but also by many educational systems for the reason that they are one of the best ways to develop and polish social and emotional skills, besides building up a person’s physical health.
Sports can be broadly categorized into two: physical activity, which can be practiced on a daily basis and which can be competitive or uncompetitive; and intellectual/artistic activity, which is performed only at competitions or in specific events such as chess and tennis. A more vague description of sports would include “any kind of physical encounter whereby the participants are at least partially motivated by the achievement of some goal.” Examples include karate, which is a martial art form, football which is a contact sport, basketball which is an Olympic sport, sailing which is an ocean sport, snowboarding which is an extreme skiing activity, bicycling which is a competitive form of motorized transport and table tennis which is an Olympic sport. A more exact definition however, of what constitutes a sport would be “any outdoor physical activity requiring skill, physical strength, and ability which enables the participant to compete with other individuals”. In this case, it is obviously necessary to distinguish between games that involve only two competitors (a single and a doubles game) from those that involve multiple competitors (an inter-team competition).
The primary objective of sports is to ensure fair competition among human beings. To this end, sports organizations are usually governed by laws that guarantee equality in the playing fields (i.e., players should be able to move and jump equally whether they are male or female), ensure equal opportunities to participate in sporting activities, provide a reasonable opportunity for players to develop their skills, ensure appropriate medical treatment and rehabilitation and to eliminate unfair advantages that the favorites may have. For example, the athletes stepping up to the plate to compete against other athletes on a sports field should not be gender biased or given an unfair advantage due to their gender. The game rules must also ensure fair play and prevent discrimination of players based on age, race, sex, religion or any other grounds. The same considerations are also applied when governing sporting competitions such as tennis, swimming, gymnastics and fencing.
Chess is considered one of the most intellectually challenging games, yet it is also a very popular game. Many people argue that there are many benefits to playing chess, especially for the brain because it is both mentally and physically challenging. Because of its ability to solve complicated problems via the application of logic, many experts have suggested that chess improves one’s reasoning, problem-solving, decision-making and overall mental toughness. As a result of this logic, many non-athletes, who are often not getting enough intellectual stimulation from regular school or college sports, are turning to chess as a non-physical alternative. The International Chess Federation (ICF) was created in 2021 as a governing body for world chess competition.
Fitness is a major factor when considering whether sports are valuable and worthwhile. Studies have shown that participating in vigorous exercise can improve one’s cardiovascular system, decrease body fat and improve muscle tone while simultaneously boosting one’s self-confidence. Similarly, the psychological benefits of sports participation include higher self-esteem, better concentration, increased alertness and improved mood control. Although strenuous exercise is not necessary to partake in sports or to enjoy the psychological and physical rewards of the sport, some form of physical activity is required to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, most sports require a specific skill set, such as skill in skating, diving, bowling, basketball, tennis, football and track and field.
Chess, unlike other sports, is generally recognised as a sport that requires mental and physical stamina, and is therefore an important and worthwhile pursuit. It encourages a range of participants, regardless of their age or physical fitness. For these reasons, it is a sport that can be enjoyed by children and adults of any age. As there are many different levels of participation in the game, there are also various levels of prize money on offer. For the competitive player, this provides a rewarding and challenging experience.