Is Chess Considered a Sport?

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Though it's still debated, chess is officially recognized as a sport by the International Olympic Committee. Chess has been deemed a sport by the International Olympic Committee, has its own International Sports Federation and is considered a sport by the majority of its players. However, there are still a few key points of debate that make people dubious about whether chess can actually be called a sport or not. A sport is typically classified by some kind of strenuous physical activity and displaying finely tuned physical skills.

Those who do not believe chess is a sport argue that chess only requires movement of one hand and players are seated and therefore the physical aspect is absent and it should not be called a sport. Defenders of chess as a sport argue that chess is actually very physically demanding, especially in elite games. High stakes and difficult chess games can last several hours, once as long as 20 hours, and to keep concentration and mental ability for that long definitely requires the kind of physical fitness and stamina that players train for. On that note, many who argue chess is not a sport do not believe chess requires the extensive training that traditional sports do. However, chess requires just as much, if not more, training than sports like tennis, football and basketball. Most chess masters study from a very young age to gain the skills they have. There are thousands of moves and possibilities to memorize and master to become great at chess. Another point of contention in the argument on whether or not chess is a sport is that many believe chess can be called a game but not a sport because it involves no display of physical skill, though it uses mental skill to overcome obstacles. The World Chess Federation, or FIDE, disputes this by calling chess a "mental sport," or a sport that simply requires more mental skill and exertion than physical.

The Highest Levels
The physical stamina required for the highest levels of competition takes practice and training. The regimens of elite and master chess players rival those of elite athletes and the sport requires great skill. The competitiveness of chess also makes it a sport in the eyes of the International Olympic Committee. There are several competitive chess events all around the world, but the highest level of competition in the sport is the World Chess Championship, dating back to 1886.

The competitiveness of chess inspires great intellectual accomplishments among its competitors and, like many other sports, chess has controls against cheating. The primary concern is cheating by computer assistance but chess players even undergo drug tests to control for any substance that may aid their playing.

Chess' status as a sport also comes from its global popularity. Unlike many other sports, it is played all over the world in many different cultures and can inspire just as much patriotism and team spirit as any other sport.