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Is Pool a Sport or a Game? (Decided)

There is sometimes a fine line between what you’d consider a sport or what better fits the description of a game. Pool is something that fits into this category quite well and often divides opinion. 

Serious players, especially those that would like to be considered athletes due to the practice they put in and skills they’ve developed would want to be classed as athletes that play a sport. Other people don’t view it the same way and it’s perceived to be more of a game of strategy due to a lack of physical requirements. 

In this article, I’ll look to answer the question of “is pool a sport or a game”. While it doesn’t matter too much as most people enjoy it for what it is, there are some strong arguments to suggest it should be classed as a sport… 

Is Pool a Sport

Pool is classified as a cue sport and is recognized as a sport due to specific criteria which include: Physical effort and a level of skill needed to aim and make shots, competition between players, and an option to play it as a hobby or professionally for money. 

There are plenty of reasons why billiards counts as a sport. To start, it fits the definition of the word “sport” nicely. Plus, it’s an entertaining activity that many people can participate in. The more you practice, the more skills you build, and the better you get at the game!

Overall, there’s a variety of aspects to pool that make it a sport. These reasons include all of the following:

It Fits the Definition

To start, let’s define what a “sport” is. In short, a sport is an activity that requires skill or physical coordination that we play for entertainment. 

In the game of billiards, you have to rely on both of those aspects. Plus, many people enjoy it as a hobby.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of a sport is:

“A game, competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for enjoyment and/or as a job”

Pool matches all of the criteria needed to be considered a sport. It involves competition while needing physical effort and skill, it’s played according to a strict ruleset and it can be played as a hobby or professionally for money. 

We can compare it to chess, which is a game (not a sport) that requires mental abilities. Pool does require similar cognitive abilities, but you also need the physical skill and experience to land your shots properly. For those reasons, pool fits nicely into the widely accepted definition of what a sport is. 

In short, many people feel that pool is a sport simply due to its definition. While this does explain why pool’s a sport, we can go into even more detail.

It Requires Mental and Physical Skill

As defined above, billiards require both mental and physical skills. When it comes to sports, professionals are always seeking out ways to practice and enhance their skills. This fact is also true when it comes to pool!

When it comes to pool, you not only need to master a range of shots like:

  • Topspin
  • Backspin 
  • Sidespin
  • Power control 
  • Dead stop 

But you also need the physical attributes to be able to do this consistently during a game. Just because pool isn’t necessarily taxing on the cardiovascular system doesn’t mean there aren’t physical aspects. 

Holding a bridge, maintaining straight cue actions, and maintaining balance during a shot are all physical aspects not too dissimilar to other sports. 

By practicing often, you should gain the ability to make your skillset more well-rounded. While playing pool well can be a natural skill, it’s often better for players to practice as much as possible. Players also need to have excellent hand-to-eye coordination, refined motor skills to repeat shots consistently, and be able to play under pressure. 

So, if you want to get better at playing pool, you need to train – just like an athlete would for another type of sport. There’s also a variety of rules you need to follow in the game, which you need to have the skills to play by.

Finally, you can get a decent amount of exercise by playing the game. While you won’t be out of breath, most players walk about a mile during a single round of billiards.

There are Athletes

Additionally, pool has athletes who play the sport professionally. All versions of the balls have their standards for production as well – just like a professional soccer ball would. Professional players also follow international rules set forth by the World Confederation of Billiards Sports, ensuring they follow the same guidelines. 

Professional billiard players need to improve their balance, flexibility, and arm, back, and leg strength. These abilities allow them to perform in a professional setting better.

Overall, billiards does have recognition as a sport – some conferences oversee the rules, and plenty of professional athletes compete internationally. If you love playing pool, you may also have an interest in watching a professional game.

When Did Pool Become a Sport?

Billiards first started as a lawn sport that was somewhat like croquet in Northern Europe. Over time, the style of the game changed, and it became an indoor sport instead. The earliest recording we have of billiards comes from the 1340s in France.

The first championship took place in 1878. The game played was American Four-Ball Billiards. The tournament was so popular and successful that cigarette companies featured the players on cards included with cigarette packages.

Overall, pool has received international fame and support since its inception hundreds of years ago. Today, you can enjoy various game styles, most of which have options for professional play. 

Why is Pool Not in the Olympics?

At this time, pool is not popular enough for the Olympics to host it. The sport’s popularity declines each year, which doesn’t help with it getting into the Olympics. However, if you’re interested in the sport, there are still plenty of places for you to watch it live!

Additionally, the game doesn’t exist in every country that participates or isn’t eligible as a sport there, meaning the Olympics cannot include it. Suppose billiards were to increase in popularity again – there’s always the chance that it could make its way into the Olympics as an official sport!

What Skills You Need to Go Pro

A billiard athlete needs several different skills to succeed in a professional setting. These include:

  • The ability to strategize
  • The ability to build physical skills
  • Physical and mental stamina
  • The ability to act when under pressure
  • Great precision
  • Great control over the positioning of balls

All of these skills take a lot of work, dedication, and effort to build. Professionals spend thousands of hours honing their skills, just like a professional pool player would need to. Professional pool players must receive the recognition they deserve for excelling at this sport!

Final Thoughts

By the definition of a sport, pool is something that ticks all the necessary criteria and can therefore be considered a sport. What makes pool a sport:

  • It provides an opportunity to compete
  • Physical exertion and skill are needed to play
  • It contains a set of rules that need to be followed by all players
  • It can be played as a hobby or professionally as a job

The one thing holding pool back from being globally considered as a sport is the fact that it’s not in the Olympics. The Olympics is the global stage for sporting competition, however, one of the main reasons why pool is not in the Olympics is because of popularity. 

Pool is mainly enjoyed by Western societies as a leisure activity and has seen a decline in popularity over the last few decades. This is holding pool back from entering the Olympics as a sport but by its very definition, pool is recognized as a cue sport and not just a game.