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On Thursday, the European Court of Justice determined that bridge is not a sport. The case stemmed from an application by the English Bridge Union to give the card game sports status for tax purposes.

While conceding that bridge "may constitute an activity beneficial to the mental and physical health of regular participants," the court suggested an actual sport should involve "a not negligible physical element."

If you have a contrary bone in your body, you have had these arguments at some point in your life – "Activity X is not a sport" or, its adjacent form, "Activity X is more of a sport than Activity Y."

(I once had this disagreement, violently, in a Dublin pub whilst contrasting American football with rugby. My interlocutor, who was also my boss at an insurance company, capped it by sprinting drunkenly across the room and rugby tackling me from behind into a table of our colleagues, shattering the table and effectively proving his point.)

Exactly how far you're willing to take this idea – "What is sport?" – depends on your affinity for dialectic purity. We've all got a little loose in this regard (Exhibit A: e-sports), making the court's ruling a necessary corrective. Not everything is sport just because you do it during the time when you could be at a gym.

A decent starting point might be the Olympic motto – "Faster, higher, stronger."

Sprinting? The ur-sport, because many of us can no longer do it for more than 10 seconds at a time without risking a stroke. The harder something is to do well, the more likely it is to be a sport.

Pole vaulting? Also a sport, because all true sports are a form of war. This is the one that gets you over the castle wall.

Weightlifting? A sport, but just about anybody can do it (poorly), so while we're not yet in the weeds, definition-wise, we're headed there.

For a long while, the International Olympic Committee had the last word in these matters.

Then they got on board with ice dancing, speed skiing and, coming up at Tokyo 2020, surfing and skateboarding. If someone can persuade teenagers to watch bear-baiting and laundry-folding, the IOC will slap a logo on them.

The Olympics has frittered away its integrity in this regard (and a few others), leaving us to fend for ourselves.

I'm assuming most people agree football is a sport (although I have heard the argument that it is not because so many of the players are "fat" and the rules are "stupid").

Baseball is a sport (I've been given a variation of the football argument on this one – "fat" and "smokers"). Hockey is a sport (although some Americans don't think so). Ditto soccer (again, Americans. Far more of them).

Every single person in the world agrees basketball is a sport, because the best players look like humans who've been pushed a few rungs up the evolutionary ladder.

Tennis? Yes. Running, jumping, hand-eye co-ordination; have to look good in shorts. Definitely a sport.

Table tennis? Sure. Same idea on a smaller scale.

Golf? Okay. I guess. A sport. Though less so.

Car racing? Weeeellll …

Bowling? Crossing the argumentation threshold at which there is real potential for a fistfight.

Darts? We now have to ask ourselves if we've gone too far.

By the EU Court's definition – "a not negligible physical element" – darts is a sport. Not because the physicality is all that important – all you need is a single functioning elbow and at least two fingers – but because there is no particular "mental" aspect to darts. All that's required is some basic math. If anything, darts is pure physicality. But so is beer pong and foosball.

We're getting into the portion of the Venn diagram where "sports" begins to bleed into a "skill."

Here's a short questionnaire to help you figure out the difference:

Can you do it effectively while drunk?

Could you do it really well? Like, really well?

Does it happen at a bar?

Is it possible to do without sweating?

Are people in their 60s doing it as well or better than people in their 20s?

Can it be done while sitting?

Are you wearing a headset and/or talking to other people while you do it?

Have you ever done it in bed?

If any of these things is true, it's not a sport. It's a skill. It may even be a vice you've dressed up as a hobby so that people don't think you have no interests.

There's nothing wrong with skills. But they are not sports.

That should be enough for dart players, pool sharks, bridge experts, chess grandmasters and video gamers (please, God, stop putting these people in spandex shirts and calling them "athletes." They are not.)

If you are still in doubt about whether the thing you are doing is a sport, ask yourself these questions:

Would anabolic steroids measurably increase my performance at this activity? Has anyone ever been shamed in the newspaper for doing that very thing?

Would I be willing to do this, unabashedly, in my underwear?

Is it possible to get very, very rich doing this?

Assuming I practised diligently and am a genetic outlier, would a crowd of people who are not directly related to me agree to watch me do this on a Sunday afternoon in summer? If those things are true, congratulations, you are sporting.

The English Bridge Union has taken its semantic diminution in stride. It announced plans on Thursday for a new run at tax-exempt status. It would now like bridge to be considered a "cultural service."

But a service to whom? Exactly what sort of service? Is it still a service if …

Patrick Chan says he may have to borrow a costume at Skate Canada International after flight problems caused him to arrive in Regina without his luggage. The figure skater says the mishap is a “good test.”

The Canadian Press

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