Competition is not enough to make chess a sport

“I believe chess isn’t and should never be considered a sport.”

Malavika Santhosh, Reporter

Two opponents face each other, playing a game of chess. After minutes of thought, one of the players moves a piece forward. The tension in the room rises.

A player runs across the court, dribbling the ball. They focus in on toward the basket and shoot the ball, scoring for their team. Cheers break out in the crowd.

Now, in my opinion, only one of these is really a sport. I believe chess isn’t and should never be considered a sport. A sport is, as the Oxford English Dictionary defines it, “An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Chess is a game played on a checkerboard where players have to move pieces across the board and attack the opponent’s king. Chess obviously doesn’t meet the “physical exertion” part of the qualifications. To be honest, I exert more energy walking from the couch to the pantry than playing a game of chess. Chess does require a lot of skill, and I respect the amount of strategic thought and mental ability it takes for players to win a game of chess. That considered, there’s a clear line between the type of skill it takes to play chess and the skill needed to play an actual sport, like soccer. There’s a combination of physical and mental strength that you need to play sports that you just won’t need for chess.

While chess is a competitive game played in between two opponents, it isn’t really . . . entertaining. I would rather watch a game of volleyball than chess, as it’s more engaging for the audience. There’s also the fact that chess is played on a LITERAL board, making it more similar to a board game like checkers, which is played on the exact same board chess is played on (yet you see no one fighting for its “right” to be a sport). Chess is on a very different dimension than physical sports, which makes it hard for me to think that it should ever be considered a sport.

In addition, chess.com, a site I consider a representative of the chess community, says “no, chess is not a sport.” Chess was one of twenty-six games, activities, and sports that applied for inclusion at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, but got rejected. If the above mentioned evidence doesn’t convince you that chess is not a sport, I don’t know what will.

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