Chess is NOT a Sport

Chess Match on Courthouse Square -- Charge at First Light by Jack W. Pearce

“Chess Match on Courthouse Square — ‘Charge at First Light'” by Jack W. Pearce

Callie Gao, Yearbook Designer, Photographer

Chess is a intellectual little activity that more than 605 million adults partake in. But, is it more of a sport or a game? 

Recently, has surged in popularity, seen on computer screens at every mundane moment of class. Most often seen are the heated battles between the machinery and the person sitting in front of it, which at a point of view is a regular board game.

But what really is a sport? When you hear the word sport, your mind probably goes to football, basketball, soccer and all those other ones that you always see online, in person and on TVs in the hallways constantly announcing new games to spectate at.

And people enjoy spectating them, after all, who would go to a game just to go to a game and not enjoy themselves? 

Is chess fun to watch? No. From the perspective of an outsider with virtually no experience in the art of playing chess, the idea of watching an on-average 10-60 minutes of what I assume to be absolutely riveting to experts, is not fun at all. Unfortunately, I don’t have the qualification to speak on this as I am one of those outsiders, so just take the rest with a grain of salt.

To play a sport, at the very least you need to be in good physical shape, have decent eye to body part coordination and teamwork skills. These allow you to enjoy the game quite easily without the repercussions of feeling left out or out of the loop. Other basic skills include knowledge of the game, ability to read social cues and to acquire equipment. Obviously, so far chess has passed these current qualifications. But don’t you normally see people running around in the aforementioned sports? Shouldn’t physical activity require to be able to identify as one?

Hop onto a search engine and type in, ‘definition of a sport.’ First thing that pops up is Oxford Dictionary with the helpful result of:



  • An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which…

Yes, there are some very taxing and exhaustive moves, such as the Sicilian, Benko, Benoni, and of course Queen’s Gambit Declined. However, it’s your opinion on whether chess uses physical exertion or not, but we can all agree it really doesn’t use that much. And while there are endless quotes about how healthy physical health is important for mental health, it doesn’t directly affect chess. Do you ever see someone working out while playing a competition?

Statista, an online website specializing in consumer and market data, says that in a 2014 evaluation of 2,255 people only 14% consider chess to be a sport. That’s about 316 people, which is roughly one in seven. You can view it as your chances of picking the correct person in ‘Heads Up Seven Up.

Feeling conflicted? Leave your own opinion by voting on this poll.