Bridge - Is it a Sport or is it just a Game?

Sunday, 31 May 2015 by Stuart Packington

A bridge too far when it comes to sporting future

A great day of decision for Great Britain is upon us - a day when an empire will rise or fall, when some become famous, others dis­appear into deserved oblivion; a few will be cheered, many jeered.

I refer, of course, to the pending decision before their courts, as to whether or not bridge is a sport ­no, really - as upon that verdict turns the answer as to whether millions of pounds from their lot­tery grants can find its way to bridge clubs, and whether those clubs can claim tax exemptions.

If it please the court, I should like to make a couple of final submis­sions, before your horse-hairness ­the most esteemed Judge Nicholas Mostyn - retires to consider his most worthy decision. Yes, yes, I know, the views of those in the colonies (sniff) don't necessarily carry weight in your court, but here's the thing. Once, long ago, I did get 18/20 on a Sydney Uni Con­tracts assignment (before sinking into legal studies oblivion, lost somewhere between the Carbolic Smokeball Company and Boiler­makers Case) so I think that gives me some weight to be the advocate.

And, strangely, when I men­tioned the subject in my TFF column last Saturday, I was over­whelmed with responses. Even in this country, people care what ver­dict you give, so why the hell shouldn't we have a say? They're passionate about what is, and isn't, a sport, and wish to be heard. After all, we are likely to have your Queen as our Queen for at least another few years, and even your flag on our flag for the same, before we come to our senses, but I digress ... 

Many Herald readers are in sup­port of bridge being so recognised. A particularly eloquent one, Greg Simpson, from Forster, took heart from your words, Judge Mostyn, that: "You are doing more physical activity playing bridge, with all that dealing and playing, than in rifle shooting."

My learned friend Mr Simpson wishes to add to that "diving, arch­ery and dressage where you can fall off a platform, pull back a bowstring or sit on a horse", and maintains that therefore bridge has an even higher qualification to be a sport than them. Therefore, he says, they should be in the Olympics?

Me, your honour? I thought you'd never ask. I take my learned friend's point, but would respectfully sub­mit that there is an alternative con­clusion your honour could come to ­that diving, archery and dressage should no more be classed as sports than bridge and therefore they should not be in the Olympics.

RAF, meantime, would like you to remove fishing from the sport­ing lists, and makes a fascinating point that, in fishing, "only one side knows that it is playing. Can it be a sport if only one team is aware of what's going on?"

I say not! And I also cite the famous words of another learned friend, the American comedian, Steven Wright: "There is a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore looking like an idiot."

Your honour, can any activity truly be called a sport, where you spend the better part of your time, standing around looking like an idi­ot? (You might like to make an excep­tion for soccer goalies, and silly mid-on ... but then again, maybe not.) 

Yet another reader, Gino, wishes to suggest that "Ticking the boxes is a sport. So many of the people who do it identify as sportsmen or sportswomen." Irrefutable.

Greyhound racing? Get rid of it, too, says Terry. Out of the sports pages. Out of our lives. As there is no human physical quotient in it, whatsoever!

As to your honour's claim it might be possible to say bridge is a sport if one accepted that the "brain is a muscle", yet one more clever reader noted that if that is true, "and using it amounts to physical activity, then overweight people only need to think about losing weight and it'll fall right off!"

All up, I think you can see where I am heading with this, judge. If you say bridge is a sport, then there is no bloody well stopping it. The floodgates will open! Next thing we know, people twirling ribbons on batons will be a sport, people moving in the same rhythm in a synchronised fashion in the pool will be a sport!

Oh ... wait. The point remains. Your job, your honour, is to tighten, not widen, the parameters, to dis­til, not dilute the essence of sport.

Thank you. The defence rests.


Peter Fitzsimons - Fitz on Thursday, SMH Thursday 7 May, 2015



What do you and other RBC Members think? Is our favourite pastime just a game or is it really a sport? Should it be included in the Olympic Games?