May 27, 2004  
Volume 98, Issue 02  

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Olympics need to slam Bridge

Incredible Hurk
Ian Van Den Hurk

Sports Editor

Gazette File Photo
THOSE DAMN KIDS WITH THEIR LOUD MUSIC AND PACMAN VIDEO GAMES. A group of blue hairs square off in an intense battle of bridge.

As officials scramble feverishly to prepare Athens for the 2004 Olympic Games, I’ve found myself pondering a very disturbing issue that has quietly surfaced over the past few years.

I swear I’m not making this up, but for some time now, it has been the intention of many (most specifically the World Bridge Federation) to incorporate the card game bridge into the Olympics. True sports fans, I can hear you cringing and I feel your pain.

How a card game could possibly be allowed into what is considered the greatest and most prestigious athletic competition in the world is beyond me.

But it would seem that even the International Olympic Committee is considering allowing such a drastic move (although I think it’s rather obvious that the IOC isn’t the most integrity-laden group of individuals). In 1995, the IOC officially added bridge to the Olympic Movement, granting the World Bridge Federation status as a recognized sport organization according to various Olympic charter rules.

In fact, bridge shares a similar status with golf, rugby and squash as recognized sports which are not yet permitted to compete in the Olympics.

My apologies to all the die-hard bridge fans out there, but are you possibly going to try to compare bridge to rugby? Or squash? Or even golf? Hey, some skeptics don’t want to see golf in the Olympics either, since you can have fat drunken guys running around swinging clubs (I’m looking at you, John Daly). But please — golf certainly takes some degree of athletic prowess or physical skill.

Bridge, on the other hand, takes absolutely no athletic ability at all. Stephen Hawking, for example, is a pretty smart guy. I bet he could pick up bridge and be pretty damn good. But I don’t think anyone is going to be considering Hawking a great athlete anytime soon. I’m pretty sure my five-year-old cousin could run circles around that guy.

The point is that the Olympics were and are about a lot of things — and physical and athletic greatness should most certainly be included as one of them. It would be a shame to see a card game like bridge admitted, especially when many other qualified sports remain on the outside looking in.

Introducing bridge would be a great way to ruin the prestige the Olympics carry. For example — and again, I’m not making this up — it has been suggested that during the Olympics, the bridge competition could be held in existing hotel rooms when they are unoccupied by real Olympic athletes. When I think of Olympic competition, I want to think of magnificent stadiums hosting epic battles between great warriors, not a bunch of old ladies sitting on a hotel room bed sipping on tea and adjusting their shawls.

Essentially, the question is this: if bridge is admitted to the Olympics, what can’t be? How about a napping contest? Or an eating contest! Afterwards, you could have those same contestants compete in sumo wrestling.

There has always been debate regarding what sports should and should not be admitted to the Olympics — a debate that will likely live on as long as the Olympics do, but bridge should be a dead issue.

In the past, the Olympics have been tarnished by a number of spectacles, and bridge need not be another. Perhaps the fact that nearly 10 years have passed since the World Bridge Federation was granted true sports status is an indication that even the IOC doubts the sporting merit of bridge.

In the meantime, bridge fanatics have had to patiently hone their skills while awaiting the chance to compete for Olympic gold. For now, I’d tell those fanatics it’s just not in the cards.



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