A High Court judge has ordered a judicial review of funding quango Sport England’s decision that the card game bridge doesn’t qualify as a true sport, and therefore isn’t eligible for grants and lottery money, because it includes no physical element.
The English Bridge Union made the breakthrough in their battle to have the card game recognised as a sport, legally on a par with rugby, tennis, or indeed target shooting after the judge found contrary to Sport England, that it did exercise a muscle. Mr Justice Mostyn said it could be a sport because he considered the brain to be a muscle, therefore satisfying the legal definition that sport is “activity aimed at improving physical fitness and well being, forming social relations and gaining results in competition”.
Most controversially of all, the judge said bridge involved more physical activity than rifle shooting, a long-recognised sport that until recently was considered one of the most important sports in the United Kingdom. The quality of ‘civilian marksmanship’ became of national concern after the poor performance of British recruits in the Boer war, and rifle clubs sprung up all over the country, to provide improving leisure time enjoyment to working men.
The case will now go to a full judicial review. This could open the way for not only bridge, but other “mind sports” like chess to receive funding.