Is Chess a Sport?

Today I read an article by Andrew Goodman in the New Jersey Herald titled, “That’s Absurd: Golf isn’t a Sport.” He goes on stating that golf isn’t a sport because it does not involve a host of athletic activities that are characteristic of football, soccer, baseball, cricket, basketball or even rope skipping. According to him, neither figure skating, nor gymnastics are sports because they are controlled by judges. (???) What caught my attention has his reference to chess. I have written on this topic before here. Here is one of Goodman’s comments:

But realize this the next time you go golfing: What you are doing is competing in a non-athletic activity, like poker or chess. Leave the sports to athletes like Derek Jeter and Jason Kidd.

In his article, Goodman argues that golf is not a sport and that chess is “non-athletic.” I doubt if Goodman has played golf or chess, but some of his arguments are strange… like this gem:

It takes no athletic ability to hit a golf ball. Although it is a unique skill to have Tiger Woods’ ability, there is nothing athletic about standing still and swinging a club at a ball that is also standing still.

Many of the most gifted athletes ever — Michael Jordan, Deion Sanders or Bo Jackson — could not make it as a professional golfer, which only proves my point.  

Well hearing what he says about golf, is CHESS a sport?

*  *  *

BTW, here is the full text of Goodman’s article.


  1. Michael Jordan couldn’t make it as a professional baseball player either. Is baseball no longer a sport? Goodman doesn’t understand basic logic and his writings probably don’t deserve the time you’ve given them.

    On the other hand, I appreciate the attention you’ve given to the question of whether chess is a sport. People who have never played the game seriously tend to laugh at the idea. This most likely comes from the connotation of sport as an athletically demanding activity — which chess is not. However, chess does not fit the connotations of a game either. People think of a game as something anybody can play and win, not to be taken seriously.

  2. The definition of sport is a complex one. I believe that chess is a sport, because it is a competition of skill, where players’ actions directly impact the performance of their opponents. If your definition of sport, however, mandates an athletic component, then chess fails to meet that standard – in spite of the fact that physical stamina is an element of the game.

    I agree that Goodman has a legitimate point to question whether or not figure skating and gymnastics are truly sports. Sure, they are demanding athletic performances, but so are ballet and trapeze! If you had trapeze artists performing in front of judges, would you then have the sport of trapeze?

    Regarding Goodman’s main thesis … golf is definitely a sport!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button