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Gaming a Sport?

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Just the latest entry in the eternal - and eternally fruitless - debate about whether or not chess is a sport. (Of course it just depends on how you define the word "sport," which we can skip.) Actually, this one is about competitive video games, a category in which chess also fits these days. It might surprise some old hands for whom online chess is a novelty - and the only online game they play - that for many chess is just one of various online, umm, sports.

Mr Christopher Hau, 39, a former engineer, described gaming as 'just a form of leisure'. He said: 'I don't see any benefit from it or the point in encouraging and publicising such games.'

And fresh graduate Jesmine Yang, 23, didn't think it should be considered a sport. She said: 'It doesn't need physical activity. Is chess a sport? If not, then gaming shouldn't be a sport. If gaming can be called a sport, when I sit in front of my computer and surf the net, I can call that a sport too!'

But the WCG team, which received a $50,000 sponsorship package from SingTel for equipment, pointed out the team is taking its SSC-directed training very seriously. So much so that it is even doing physical training.

Team Singapore's general manager, SSC's Mr Kelvin Chua, revealed that the players will have personal training services in the gym to help their 'cardiovascular training and strength and conditioning training'.

Quite a lot in common with chess. Physical conditioning, commercialization, sponsorship. No, wait, we don't have all of that in chess... Btw, even if that's in Singapore dollars it's still $30,000. Yow. I mean, Hau.


Any game that is as exhausting as chess, and physical conditioning is important, is a sport!

That engineer C. Hau has no clue!

I've always thought of sport as a contest of wills. The game itself, be it hitting a ball with a stick, knocking someone out with a fist, or pushing pieces across a board is just a metaphor for the underlying contest. As I see it, the problem with clasifying video games as sport is that a computer lacks will. It simply does what it is programmed to do. It is never actually trying to win. It is executing code.
A significant distinction arises for player versus player (PVP) games and competitions that pit players against one another on the basis of some measurable, objective standard, such as score. Here, I see the requisite for a sport- a contest of wills played out within a metaphor. As much as I hate to admit it, I think there are actually adequate grounds for considering for instance Halo (shudder) competitions sport. But I am quick to point out that I am equally hesitant to admit that curling is a sport. I would have to add the fact that chess is near and dear to my heart biases me somewhat. But the definition of sport seems both broad and flexible. Furthermore, this definition excludes actions like fighting, and war; neither of which are metaphors for the imposition of wills. Instead, these actions are textbook examples of imposing will.
And on that note, I would like to take a moment to declare myself the greatest Galaga athlete on the face of the earth.

How can a definition of whether A is a type of B skip the definition of B?

The old definition of sport is that it didn't have any rules. Rhino hunting was a sport. Mountain climbing was a sport. Scuba diving was a sport. On the other hand, football and the 100-meter dash were games. You can still see relics of this idea: it's called the Olympic Games, not the Olympic Sports.

The discussion we should really be having is not whether chess is a sport, but whether football is! Clearly both are games.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on September 19, 2005 3:14 AM.

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