October 5, 2015
Shall the UK Charities Act include bridge as a sport (not a game) to qualify for public funding? That is the question being adjudicated in London’s High Court. Against? Sport England and public opinion. For? the English Bridge Union (EBU).
The title of this blog is both the title and premise of a great recent article by Henry Mance in UK’s Financial Times. Here’s a few provocative excerpts which I hope will inspire you to read the whole thing: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e64b2de4-62d1-11e5-9846- de406ccb37f2.html#axzz3nn8zA4Zq
To begin with, Mance is surprised the EBU even wants recognition as a sport at this time, he’s given up watching football because of the deterioration in sportsmanship, the “concussing” in Rugby, and “international athletics . . . deep in its own mire.”
Says Mr. Mance: “Yet that is not the glory of the game. Bridge is a leveler. The whole point is that you do not have to be physically fit: you can lose to your grandparents.” He’s a man on my bridge wavelength!
My view is that bridge is not a sport as the EBU claims. On the other hand, the High Court judge ought to approve it as eligible under the UK Charities Act as a game given this Charities Act definition for qualification: “sports or games which promote health by involving physical or mental skill or exertion.” [emphasis is mine]
Bridge is most definitely a game that promotes health by involving mental skill . . . and the enforced sociability with at least three other people.
Of course the real reason this case is probably reaching London’s High Court has to do with the campaign by competitive bridge worldwide to be included in future Olympics.
Mr. Mance has some advice too for top bridge players like Ms Dhondy, “who dream of Olympic medals . . . learn from Deng Xiaoping.”
I’ll leave it to all supporters of including bridge in the 2020 Olympics to go read Mance’s entire article to find out what they can learn from Deng.
Incidentally, there’s also a major article on this in the Manchester Guardian, more about the differences in mental and physical prowess, but still interesting. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/sep/25/lets-play-a-game-is-bridge-a-sport
And, finally, just discovered this Wall Street Journal article reflecting views of fans and bridge players in Britain: http://www.wsj.com/articles/so-is-bridge-a-sport-fans-say-yes-14428