British judge rules the brain is a muscle, paving way for esports as sport

On Sunday, esports, or competitive gaming, aired live on ESPN2 for the first time

Photo by Franklin Heijnen/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

On Sunday, esports, or competitive gaming, aired live on ESPN2 for the first time. The results were as expected: a social media frenzy. Some enjoyed the ride, while others wondered just how the sports network could have gone so wrong. “Nerds,” radio host Colin Cowherd proclaimed on his show the next morning, in a ridiculously out-of-touch rant. Esports aren’t sports, Cowherd and his kind say. Why is it on a sports network?

Regardless of whether esports really needs to be a sport, it may soon be considered one legally. In the United Kingdom, at least.

The English Bridge Union (EBU) is pushing to overturn government agency Sport England’s decision to exclude bridge as a sport, and its case could have consequences for other games.

British High Court judge Nicholas Mostyn recently ruled that the union’s claim has validity. Mostyn argues that the brain is a muscle, and using it in games like bridge can require more physical exertion than activities like rifle shooting.

“To gain permission to seek judicial review you must have a realistic and not fanciful chance of success,” Mostyn said. “I cannot see how this case is not arguable.”

That argument can also apply to other activities like chess or, dare we say it, esports. That’s something that could have benefits for esports growth in England: The EBU wants their card game classified as a sport legally to receive certain benefits, like a value-added tax exemption at sporting competitions.

Of course, the ruling is just the start of the EBU’s crusade. It ruling only gives the group the right to seek a full judicial review. But for esports, it really doesn’t matter.

It’s already on ESPN, after all. Whether you call it a sport or not, esports is here to stay.

H/T The Telegraph

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