Art or Sport?
Kasparov weighs in
Sports are supposed to have spectators, right? And since most countries in the world recognize chess as a sport, why are there almost no spectators? Frustrating, isn’t it! Should we inside the chess community re-think this issue?
I remember years ago having this discussion with Valery Salov back, in 1998 at the Elista Olympiad if I am not mistaken, Salov arguing that it was a mistake to push for chess being classified a sport. That chess should be considered primarily an art, part of our collective culture. And in that way chess would not be cut off of the kind of funding that the arts qualify for.
Twenty years later there are plenty of people on both sides of the fence. Many chess federations do infact qualify for state funding precisely because of the sport status. Numerous federations see their medal winning players receive tens of thousands of dollars from the state, just as any other medal winning athlete.
The cost, however, is that commercial sponsorship has virtually dried up. If you want to be a sport, sponsors argue, then you have to deliver what any sport attracts: spectators.
Post Script (September 8)
I was kindly contacted by Riccardo Musso:
Hello, Mr. Spraggett.
With reference to your article mentioned in the subject, “You cannot say, ‘Go! Go! Rah! Rah! Good move!’ People want some emotion. Chess is an art and not a spectator sport” is an Ilyumzhinov’s statement.
Riccardo also thought that the following two references might be of value to the readers on the subject discussed.