Well everybody has a go don’t they?
The tax tribunal dealt a losing hand to the English Bridge Union and wants the game to be recognised as a sport so members won’t have to pay VAT on their competition entry fees which amounted to £631,000 in 2012/2013.
They ruled that as Bridge does not involve physical activity, it cannot be deemed as a sport. The English Bridge Union stated that bridge was a healthy game and that playing regularly could help reduce the risk of dementia and be of benefit to the immune system. They also argued that if activities such as darts could be deemed a sport then the 50,000 members of Bridge should also be seen as such.
The barrister acting for the English Bridge Union, David Ewart QC, questioned whether it was “really possible to draw a distinction between the mental skill needed in planning a snooker shot or croquet shot and the physical skill used to execute it.
The appeal was dismissed by Judge Charles Hellier who stated that “To our minds, sport normally connotes a game with an athletic element, rather than simply a game. Contract Bridge involves some physical activity, but not a significant amount. The physical activity is not the aim of participation and physical skill is not particularly important to the outcome.”
The tribunal ruled that the interpretation of the tax exemption was clear and refused to refer the dispute to the European Court of Justice.
In many other countries including France, Bridge is regarded as a sport and was recognised as such by the International Olympic Committee in 1995 and appeared as an exhibition event in the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City back in 2002.
But again, it’s very interesting because there are so many angles that one takes I would never have thought that Bridge was actually a sport, but I suppose as I’m getting old and less active, I’ll sure be looking at sports like that myself.