Tag Archives: Is Chess a Sport?

Is Chess a Sport?

The German Federal Government considers chess an activity unworthy of support

xxxThere has been a heated discussion, triggered by the German Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs, within the last few weeks whether or not chess is eligible to be referred to as a sport. The ministry currently supports sports in the country with more than 130 Million Euros, 130,000 Euros of which were used each year to promote and support the German Chess Federation. Since 1976, the Federation has been fostered by the German government, and the approximately 100,000 members have been appreciating the financial aid ever since.

The German Olympic Sports Federation caused another uproar in the discussion when it altered its eligibility criteria in December 2013. In consequence, the Chess Federation received a formal denial of further subsidies, sent by the Ministry of Internal Affairs a few weeks ago.

The written statement basically explains that there is no reasonable argument to support this kind of mental exercise in the future, as is lacks motoric activities. In other words, there is not going to be any support for the Chess Federation from 2014 to 2017.

How can we define the term ‘sport’?

The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about sports is probably football. Or athletics. Or any other sport that requires a high level of physical fitness. However, the term ‘sport’ cannot only be defined through exercise. Not even experts agree on what aspects should be taken into consideration when defining a sport. Fact is: Learning a general rule set, playing in accordance with the competition’s conditions, fair-play thinking, and practice are equal elements of a sport – just like motor skills.

Checkmate meets all these requirements. Who has had the pleasure of playing a six-hour tournament session or watching a nine-round blitz chess tournament before, is aware that activity and speedy responsiveness are indispensable elements of the game. Furthermore, there is a number of other well-recognized sports such as shooting, fishing, or golfing that include just as little exercise as chess when comparing them to competitive disciplines.

Dedication that pays off!

With the weight of these aspects, many people agree that chess should and must be considered a sport, which makes the denial of subsidies an unjustified act. The reactions to the Ministry’s statement were fierce. Not only were the public discussions intense. A petition was set up, and one of the parties initiated parliamentary motion about the topic. Luckily, the Budget Committee decided to countermand the denial of subsidies, which gave the chess enthusiasts reason to calm down. The discussion itself remains.

What do you think? Should chess be recognized to be a sport by the Federal Government and society just like other popular sports or is the support unreasonable?

written by Sarah, translated by Birthe