6 Reasons To (& To Not) Consider Checkers a Sport (Draughts)

Children play checkers on a large playing field
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If you play a lot of Checkers like I do, you might begin to wonder if you can consider it a sport. The reality is that playing Checkers will not build muscle strength or help me lose weight, but it is somewhat of a “workout” for the brain. It also fits in, somewhat, with the definition of a sport. So, where does that leave us? Is Checkers a sport, or is it a game that is sort of a sport, but not really? Isn’t it even a sport at all? I absolutely had to know – I had to end the confusion, so I did a bit of investigative work to find out. 

Six Reasons Why Checkers:

SHOULD BE CONSIDERED A SPORTSHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A SPORT
1.Competitive.No physical strength or exertion required.
2.Requires peak mental fitness.Players are not “sportsmen”.
3.Played globally (World Champs).There’s no need to “move” at all.
4.Player ranking system in place.Forced moves are possible.
5.Official rules of play exist.The Merriam-Webster Dictionary does not define it as a sport.
6.It provides a sporting opportunity for everyone.There is no sports kit/gear involved.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a sport as follows: “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment”. As you can see, the very definition of the term sport is what makes me confused about whether Checkers can be rightfully considered a sport or not. After all, Checkers does involve skill and is a competition between two individuals. For this reason, should Checkers be considered a sport? Many think so – although the many just happen to be Checkers enthusiasts. 

Before you can decide what you think, you need to do a little delving into the arguments from both sides. Take a closer look at the 6 reasons for and 6 reasons against Checkers being considered a sport, and then you can come to a final conclusion of your own. Read on below.

Why Checkers Should be Considered a Sport

Have you ever thought to yourself that Checkers should be called a sport, but are not really sure why? Well, the pointers below support Checkers being a sport. Below are 6 compelling reasons why Checkers is worthy of being called a sport.

Checkers chess competition among kids
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1. Checkers is a competitive game.

A sport is competitive. Usually, two individuals or two teams play against each other in order to win. Checkers might not be a team sport, but it is a highly competitive game, where the main objective of the players is to win. There are many who argue that any widely recognized activity involving any form of competition should be considered a sport. And so in the light of this, I too would consider Checkers a sport. 

2. Playing Checkers requires peak mental fitness.

You will not need to go out on daily runs or do serious weightlifting to improve your Checkers skills (it would not hurt though), but you do need to work out one area of the human body, and that is the brain. In order to become a “pro” Checkers player (or should I say athlete), you need to ensure that your mental fitness is taken care of. Excellent Checkers skills require the brain to be active, quick, and always thinking one step ahead. It is a sport for the mind (mind sport). That sounds like training for a sport to me!

3. Checkers is played globally (World Champs).

With Checkers being globally recognized and the fact that there are World Checkers Championships held since the 1840s, it stands to reason that the game is competitive enough to be considered a sport. Checkers is not just a game that families play at home in their spare time. It is an actual recognized event – and that says a lot.

4. There is a player ranking system in place in the Checkers Community.

For some, the fact that there is global recognition of Checkers champions, as well as that people actually travel across the world to compete with each other, means that Checkers is a sport that is worthy of recognition.

Most Checkers players already know of Marion Tinsley, who is said to have only ever lost 22 Checkers games (only 7 of which were official matches). Tinsley was the World Champion from 1955 to 1958 and then again from 1975 to 1991. Another highly respected champion is Amangul Berdieva, who was the first female GAYP World Checkers Champion from 2005 to 2012. All of Amangul’s siblings and father play Checkers, and she even has a coach called Maksat Durdyev. To many, she is considered a sporting pro. 

adults play checkers in the drafts club
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5. There are official rules of play when playing Checkers.

Any worldwide recognized sport has a set of official rules in place that are authorized and enforced by some sort of council. In the Checkers world, the World Checkers Draughts Federation (WCDF) ensures that the rules are updated and events are well informed of. This might not make Checkers a sport, but it certainly makes it worthy of being called a sport.

6. Checkers provides a sporting opportunity for everyone.

Who says that sport has to be defined by your physical abilities? People with disabilities can play sports too; mind sports. That is precisely what Checkers is. Checkers (Draughts) is a mind sport that provides everyone the opportunity to compete. It does not matter if you are fit or unfit, in a wheelchair or not, it does not even matter what age you are. You can play Checkers if you want to – and that is a great sportsmanship approach, isn’t it?

Why Checkers Should Not Be Considered a Sport

If you believe that Checkers should not be considered a sport, do you have a few compelling reasons why? Perhaps the pointers below could add to your list of reasons! Below are 6 compelling reasons why Checkers should not be considered a sport. 

1. No physical strength or exertion is required when playing Checkers.

Some might argue that Checkers does not demand any physical strength or exertion from players, and that is true. The only reason your heart rate might increase or beads of sweat start to form on your forehead is from getting yourself into a tricky situation on the board.

2. Opponents are players and not “sportsmen” in Checkers.

children and adults play checkers
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When you see what society deems a “sportsman”, you see someone who is well-groomed, in good physical condition, and dressed in the appropriate attire for the sport of their choice. You certainly do not see any of this with a Checkers player. Checkers players can be of any age, fitness, size, and condition – and they can wear whatever they want to. 

3. In a game of Checkers, there is no need to “move” at all. 

Some might argue that Checkers is a sport because it requires players to move the pieces with their hands, which means that they have to be physically active during a game. However, we can argue that Checkers can be played without having to actually move the pieces – players can call out their moves and have somebody else (or a computer) move the pieces for them. 

4. Forced moves are possible in a game of Checkers.

If a Checkers player is playing strategically, they can force the opponent into having to make a particular move/jump.

A forced move can happen two ways in a game of Checkers. The first is when the option of a jump becomes available, the player has to take the jump and make the capture, even if they do not want to. Much the same, the second way a forced move happens is by a player being strategic and moving their pieces in such a way that a forced move occurs. This forces the opponent to take a jump, which can then leave them at risk. For some, this could be considered a type of cheating in terms of other sports. 

5. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary does not define Checkers as a sport.

We rely on dictionaries to define many things in our lives, why not the meaning of Checkers? Checkers is defined in the Merriam-Webster English Dictionary as follows: “a game played on a checkerboard by two players each having 12 pieces”. There you have it; a game!

View of a Merriam Websters English dictionary
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6. There is no sports kit or gear involved when playing Checkers.

Yes, you will need a Checker’s board and pieces to play, but other than that, there is no need to wear any particular clothing, uniform, or gear to play a game of Checkers. Most sports require a specific type of outfit to be worn. This simply is not the case when it comes to Checkers.

Checkers Is/Is Not a Sport

Checkers could be a sport, but it also might not be. How you view Checkers is really up to you. You will need to decide if you can personally call Checkers a sport or not. And at the end of the day, whether it is a sport or not does not really matter. What really matters is that you are having fun (and winning, of course, at least more often than not).