Occasionally, some questions spring up in the heart of some billiard enthusiasts. One such question happens to be, is pool a sport or a game? The truth is, even experienced players might be caught in the web of this thought sometimes.
Such a question sometimes arises out of mere curiosity. Other times, it could be when you seek to attach a professional athlete title to your social media profiles.
It’s also possible that as a fan that enjoys watching cue sports games, including snooker, 8-ball, and 9-ball, you’ll need the information to win a pool argument.
Is pool a sport? In short, It is, yes. All the different variations of cue sports, including 8-ball, 9-ball, and snooker fall under the sports category.
If this question is still unanswered in your heart, this article is for you. It promises you that much-needed clarity once and for all, and settles a lot of dust in the heart of every pool enthusiasts
What makes a sport a sport
The question is pool is a sport or a game needs a careful answer. We can solve the puzzle first by understanding the two words- Sport and Game. Along with that understanding, I will let you know what makes a game worth being called a sport.
The Oxford Learners Dictionary defined a sport as:
“an activity done for pleasure that requires your physical and mental effort or skill that follow fixed rules to a specific outcome”
As regarding games, the dictionary describes it as:
“An activity or sport done for fun that comprises rules where you can win or lose.”
With the aid of the above definitions, it’s reasonable to say that most practiced sporting activities are games, but indeed, not all games can be referred to as sports.
This is as basic as the age-long distinction between animals and mammals, where it is said that all mammals are animals, but not all animals are mammals.
In the light of that distinction, the most spotted difference between a sport and a game is the level of mental exertion and physical strength required to compete in each.
Whereas in a game, you are required to apply your mental strength and play by the rules without any form of physical effort or skill, in sport, you are required to utilize your physical and mental strength, as well as apply real skills when competing.
So in playing a Word Puzzle or Dice game with a friend, no form of physical ability is expected from you.
However, in a game such as a football match or athletics, you’re training, then, skills and physical strength come into play. In the real sense, “you can play a game of sports, but you can’t spot a game.”
Cue sports on its own are varieties of games generally played with a pool stick. Players use pool sticks to strike cue balls around a tabletop covered with billiards cloth and surrounded with rubber cushions. The goal is to direct the object balls into various pockets on the table.
At this point, back to the question: Is pool a sport? Certainly yes! The definition so far supports this claim.
Pool is a recognized sport, including the 8-ball, 9-ball, 10-ball, snooker, and other variations of the pool. These variations of pool are internationally recognized under the term ‘Cue Sports’ and have the World Confederation of Billiards Sports overseeing its affairs on the international level.
Why is billiards a sport
It’s expected that some athletic purists will seek to know the reasons why billiards is called a sport. You might also be wondering if playing pool requires some sort of physical exertion.
Without realizing it, billiards takes a lot of physical and mental exertion, more than it’s given credit for.
There are occasions when professional players have to go on and on for hours while playing in tournaments. Such a long-game session will strain their whole body, particularly the muscles in the upper leg, the abdominal, and the lower back.
When this type of game is played more often, players will begin to notice muscle growth on their bodies.
Also, because of the several techniques involved in the game, excellent muscular control is always required, including excellent hand-to-eye coordination.
The fact is, that every pool player requires hand-to-eye coordination skills to excel in the game.
Every effort you make during the game starting from aiming your target accurately, stroking your pool cue rightly, and applying spin on the pool ball will determine your success or failure.
The second aspect of billiards is its mental demand.
In every game you play, your mental strength happens to be your endurance factor.
You are expected to understand every form of interaction that exists when contact is made with the balls.
These movements include spinning, deflection, pacing, and others. You should implore different strategies during a match, like knowing when to be defensive, how to position the cue ball for your next shot rather than aim directly.
So, even though the level of physical exertion associated with the pool isn’t as high as that of other typical sports, the sport is still a top game of precision.
During the 2016 Olympics, a couple of sports with the same precision level as the pool were included; they are golf, shooting, and archery, among others.
Is pool an Olympic sport
Currently, billiards has not been included as a part of the Olympic Games.
However, serious efforts are being made in that regard by the World Confederation of Billiards Sports.
The initial target was to have cue sports included in the Olympic program in Paris in 2024. The IOC rejected the bid for inclusion by the group.
Hence, the shift of target to the 2028 Olympic Games planned to be held in Los Angeles.
Following the announcement by the IOC that Chess, Squash, and the cue games will not feature in the Olympic Games in France, the secretary-general of the World Confederation of Billiards Sports, Diane Wild, described the decision as, “a disappointment.”
She added that the Billiards group has now shifted focus to the 2024 games and will organize a “truly great bidding campaign.” According to a statement released by the Billiards 2024 group, they are preparing for, “another bidding campaign in the land where the pool was born, where we could take part in the Olympic Games 2028 in Los Angeles.”
At what level is cue sports played now
As already mentioned, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is yet to adopt the billiards into the Olympic Games, although there are strong hopes for a successful entry in 2024.
One of the major obstacles preventing the entry of the pool sports into the Olympic Games is that billiards games haven’t gained much international recognition as a sport.
As a result, the Cue sports are currently played at a National and local level only.
Hopefully, the two bodies governing the billiards sports on the international level: the World Confederation of Billiards and the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association will be able to convince the IOC otherwise in the nearest future.
When that is done, cue sports will be featured on the international stage as a recognized sport.
Is Snooker categorized under Cue Sports and played professionally?
In the United States, the 8-ball and the 9-ball are the most popular cue games played professionally.
The set of rules observed during the gameplay is dictated by the association under which the tournament is played.
Aside from the United States, Cue Sports also thrives in other areas such as the United Kingdom. People see billiards as a trendy sport in Asia.
Unlike in the United States, Snooker is the version of the cue sport that has gained massive popularity in the UK and China.
Snooker hasn’t enjoyed a fame status in the US because it’s a bit different from most people’s expectations of what billiards are. Snooker and pool have a lot of differences, but they are both forms of pocket billiards
The table used for the Snooker game is the same as other cue sports, but with differences in length, which is close to 12 feet (3.66 m).
The settings and the rules guiding the snooker is also very different compared to the rest of billiards. In the game of Snooker, 15 red balls are used. There are 6 other balls of different colors placed on the table at specific places. Snooker is scored in the points accumulated by each player. You earn specific points by pocketing a ball in the game. These points vary with the color of the ball a player pockets
There is another to earn points in the game. When a player blocks the opponent’s access to strike the right ball, it results in “snooker,” and the player earns some points for it. The term “snooker” is used to describe an opponent’s inability to make contact with the correct balls without the aid of the rail, or any other escape means.
As an individual, when you play a quick pool game with your friends and family in the pub, it doesn’t take much from you. You can laugh in-between shots, take all the time you want, and even take a drink while you strike the balls. However, it’s a different case for professional players. The game demands a lot of training and mental work from players. During tense games, their legs are subjected to a lot of pressure, arms, back, and even chest. You see why the pool is a sport.
Currently, all the National governing bodies recognize cue games as sports. It is an indication that cue sports are way beyond pub games, and just a matter of time before the IOC agrees to its inclusion into the Olympic Games as well.
Rob is an avid player and fan of all cue sports, particularly 8-ball, and snooker. He has competed in a few local 8-ball tournaments and although he is not a professional, he can compete with the best of them.