I was flipping through channels on t.v. the other day and came across an Esports channel. This got me thinking, are there any other televised games? I know Esports are becoming more and more popular so is it only a matter of time before board games get there time in the spotlight?
I would love board games to be officially considered a sport and although they may not meet the requirements necessary by today’s definition of a sport, board games may one day be considered a sport. Sports by definition require strenuous physical activity. Esports do not meet this requirement but yet they managed to create there own sub-category of sport. So should board games be considered a sport, I think so. Board games may not be as physically strenuous as standard sports, but that doesn’t mean that board games aren’t competitive or take skill. It just means that when the time comes for board games to become a spectator sport, a new sub-category of sports will need to be made.
I understand why some may not consider board games a sport so I’m going to play devil’s advocate here and explain why board games both should and shouldn’t be considered a sport.
Why Board Games Should Be Considered a Sport
Although board games do not fit the exact definition of a sport, they do take a tremendous amount of skill which is a key factor that makes a sport. So, why should board games be considered a sport?
Board Games Require Skill
Board games require an immense amount of skill to understand how the mechanics of the game work and how to use them to your advantage.
Just like any sport, board games require the same amount of experience, practice, and knowledge to become a professional.
Board Games Are Competetive
Board games can be just as competitive as any sport out there. You play a game of Twilight Imperium and tell me things don’t get competitive real quick.
Competition is the driving force of any sport. Wanting to prove they are the best at what they do helps players improve their game.
Board Games Are Played for Entertainment
If you play board games then there is a good chance you have watched youtube channels like Geek & Sundry play board games. So why wouldn’t you watch it on a big screen or live in person with a bigger budget?
Board games can be just as entertaining to watch as any sport out there. As you watch you can try and figure out what strategies the players are using and see how quickly a game can turn when a player goes from first to last.
Board Games Can Be Physically Demanding
Board games can require hours of concentration, focusing on the game and this requires a certain amount of endurance. Some games can take many hours to finish and can be both mentally and physically taxing.
If you really need some sort of physical skill to be involved then there are some board games that are dexterity based and require physical skill in order to win.
Some Sports Require Little Physical Exertion
Some sports like Golf, do not require that much physical exertion. There are plenty of pro golfers that may not necessarily be in the best shape but still win tournaments.
So that brings up the question, how much physical activity does there need to be for an activity to be considered a sport? I already mentioned the physical strain and endurance that players need to finish longer board games. Where is the line drawn?
If Video Games Are a Sport Then Board Games Should Be Too
Esports has become increasingly popular over the past few years and is now a multi-million-dollar global phenomenon. So if video games can be considered a sport I think it is only a matter of time before board games can be considered a sport as well.
A lot of people are still having a hard time thinking of Esports as a sport. Many countries are taking steps to solidify gamers as athletes. For example, in the United States, professional gamers can obtain a P-1 visa which is given to athletes.
The truth is that if there is enough interest and money behind a hobby then it can easily be marketed as a sport. It may take time, but board games are slowly gaining popularity and I believe that they could one day make the leap to becoming a sport.
Challenges Board Games Face
Board games face many challenges that will make it hard for it to become considered a sport.
Which Board Games Should Be a Sport?
There are thousands of board games that are out there. Which ones do you choose to become the headlining game?
For Esports you have mostly shooters, fighters, and MOBAS that dominate the industry. These games are fast-paced and require a lot of tactical strategy and teamwork.
There are plenty of tactical board games out there, especially miniature games. You could look at games like X-Wing or Warhammer. Or do you go meta and have board games based on actual sports become a sport. The problem is that there is a lot of thought that goes into each decision you make in these games. This means a lot of downtime for the audience.
Board Games Are Too Cerebral
We’ve all played a game where someone takes nearly 10 minutes to make there move. That doesn’t make for very good television when most of the footage is just someone starring at a table. Therein lies the problem, board games are far more cerebral and that can be hard to make interesting to a large audience.
I enjoy watching others play board games. I subscribe to many youtube channels that do playthroughs and I find it entertaining. But just because I find people sitting around a table playing a game entertaining, doesn’t mean everyone else will.
Are Board Games Popular Enough
This may be the golden age of board games but for most people, they haven’t played any real board games outside of Monopoly or Life. So will they be willing to sit down and watch a tournament for a Euro that they don’t know the complex rules or mechanics to? Probably not.
Then the question becomes, are there enough board game enthusiasts out there that are willing to participate and watch a broadcast of these board games? Because if there aren’t enough people watching then there is no way that board games will be able to get sponsorships to support the sport.
Why Board Games Should Not Be Considered a Sport
Obviously I love board games. I wouldn’t be taking the time to write this article if I didn’t. I want board games to grow in popularity and one day become a spectator sport. As of today though, board games just aren’t there.
By definition, board games do not meet the requirements to be considered a sport. No one want’s to be that guy, but Oxford Dictionary defines a sport as the following:
An activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.Source
Board Games Are a Hobby, Not a Sport
Board games may have some qualities that make up a sport like, skill and entertainment value, but just because you find something to be fun it doesn’t make it a sport, it makes it a hobby. It may be a competitive hobby, but it is not a sport.
Board Games Aren’t Popular Enough…Yet
Board games simply are not at the same level of popularity as any mainstream sport. Sports require sponsorships from major companies and the only way companies will invest in something is if they know that they can make money from it. Board games just don’t have a big enough audience right now to attract sponsors. The same could have been said a decade ago about video games and now Esports has become huge.
I love board games and I hope one day they will get the attention that they deserve. Board games take plenty of skill and practice to master and I think that players share many of the same traits that pro athletes have. Much like how Esports began, I think board games have a chance of becoming a sport.
What do you think? Do you think board games should be considered a sport? Let me know in the comments down below. Happy Gaming!