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YES! Absolutely. “Bridge” is a sport. That’s the short answer. However, if you still have “Yeah, right… no” in your mind, keep reading because I will present you with a refutable proof.

What you understand as “sport”?

Is horse-riding a sport?

Most people have their own “unique” understanding, in a way an “approval”, as to what activity they consider a sport. But, when I wrote “unique” above, it can also mean “mistaken” or “confused”. Let me explain:

  • “Sport” is not merely (physical) “exercise”, i.e: when you do 10-sit-ups, 10-push-ups, 10-burpees and plank, for example, am I doing an exercise or a sport? And you probably don’t want to watch sport on TV if it were just exercise. As a “sport”, the activity needs to be more structured, have rule and regulations, ethics, etc.
  • A sport doesn’t need to have vigorous physical activity like swimming or athletics. For example shooting (as in rifle/pistol shooting). It is in Olympics games since 1896, are you saying that is not a sport? How about motorsport (as in sitting in cars for hours just move the steering wheel) or horse-riding (as in just sitting on a horse).
  • A person doing sport doesn’t need to always stand up. Some people say if it is sitting down it is not a sport. Rowing comes to mind, so do cycling, canoeing, etc.
  • Does a sport have to be the one in the Olympic Games? Definitely NOT. For example, netball, squash, bowling, mixed martial art, cricket, karate, polo, cheerleading have never been in Olympics as per date of this writing. (Karate will make its debut on 2020 Tokyo Olympic). Are you saying the one that not in the Olympics is not a sport? Well, Definitely NOT.

Definition Of Sport

Is shooting a sport?

SportAccord, the International Sports Federation, a not-for-profit global sports organisation made the best definition and the most complete definition of “sport”.

So, they stated that “sports” can be classified as 5 categories of primary activity:

  • physical
  • mind
  • motorised
  • coordination
  • animal-supported

Furthermore, a “sport” should meet the additional four criteria below:

  • Have elements of competition
  • Not harmful to any living creature
  • Depending on skill, not “luck” element or game of chance
  • Relying on equipment from more than one supplier (prevent exclusivity/monopoly)

So, by that definition, for example, poker and spearfishing probably will never be a sport for the obvious reasons (luck, and fish-killing). But, Bridge by all account is qualified to be one.

Cambridge dictionary define sport /spɔːt/ as:

World Bridge Federation represents Bridge in international level

all types of physical activity that people do to keep healthy or for enjoyment

Merriam-Webster defines sport /ˈspȯrt/ as follows:

a particular activity (such as an athletic game) so engaged in

Oxford dictionary depicts sport /spɔːt/ as:

activity that you do for pleasure and that needs physical effort or skill, usually done in a special area and according to fixed rules

All those definitions qualify bridge as a sport.

Luck or Chance factor in Bridge

Bridge has cleverly eliminated the luck factor by introducing what called “duplicate” Bridge. So, while true that in one shuffle (refered as “hand”) one could get a better or bad card combinations, the exact same hand will be played by the whole tournament participant.

Therefore, the skill of applying statistics, judgement, finding distribution, etc has a much prominent role than the bad luck factor of the lie of a card. Because although the cards were exactly the same, you will see the result would separate the better player at the end of the tournament.

One of my silly friends argued, “I met a good player while you play a beginner – you are lucky.” Well, if that kind of “luck” disqualifies Bridge as a sport, I guess all sport is disqualified as well. It is like argue football is not a sport because Germany plays Panama while England meets French. Silly, right?

Further proofs that Bridge is a sport

  • Bridge is officially recognized as a sport by The Association of IOC Recognised International Sports Federations (ARISF)
  • On 28 October 2000, held in Monaco, the Assembly of the General Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) recognized bridge without any opposition. GAISF includes Olympic and non-Olympic sports.
  • In June 1995, IOC (International Olympic Committee) recognized World Bridge Federation as a “Recognized Sport Organization” under Rule 4 of Olympic charter. And further in June 1999, WBF was also recognized as “International Federation” of sport under Rule 29 of Olympic charter. See the certificate here.
  • Speaking at the opening of the 1st IOC Grand Prix, December 1997, IOC President Samaranch declared that ‘bridge is a sport and, as such, its place is here (in the Olympic Museum) like all other sports‘.
  • In August 2018, among 40 other sports and attended by 45 countries, Bridge is in the second-biggest multi-sport event after the Olympic Games, Asian Games. With it, 6 Golds, 6 Silvers and 12 Bronzes medals were up for grab. China dominated with 3 Golds-1 Silver and 2 Bronzes. Yes, we still wait for Bridge to compete in a Winter Olympic Games, but it will be…soon

So, is Bridge a Sport?

With the lack of significant and rigorous physical activity, together with Chess, Bridge will always be under this classic scrutiny: whether or not Bridge is a sport. I can see where the confusion started: people relate sport with physical health. And people wrongly assume that sport and physical activity/exercise is a synonym.

However, with its nature of the game that is highly competitive, structured, not a game of chance and has mass participation, Bridge has established itself as one of bonafide sport in the community.

Furthermore, the recognition from various international sports organization such as IOC (International Olympic Committee) sealed Bridge status as a sport even stronger.

Additionally, the inclusion of Bridge to the Asian games signal that Bridge is going even more mainstream.

So, there you have it. Next time if a friend, family member, your child or your spouse says that bridge is not a sport. Ask them to read this article. Yes, Bridge is a sport: lexically, socially, practically!