Join Another Club, Bridge (pun intended)

This morning they broadcast one of those news stories that made me unsure whether to laugh or to fling my porridge at the stereo like a belligerent 95-year-old. It wasn’t about the refugee crisis or Donald Trump, which was a nice change – it was about a debate that’s raging about whether Bridge should be considered a sport by Sport England.

Bridge as in, cards.

Someone interviewed argued, quite rightly, that bridge is exercise for the mind. It keeps the human brain fit and healthy, and I should probably learn it so I can actually make it to 95. Thing is, though, it requires virtually no physical movement. So when I heard the bulletin, I thought ‘writing a book is brain exercise and it’s fucking hard, no one’s giving away Olympic medals for that’. I’ve given it some thought and here are things that do count as physical exercise:

  • Looking after a small child who has recently learnt to move independently
  • Looking after animals of various sizes who move about independently
  • Working in industries that require one to carry, move and/or shelve items, and to engage in physical exercise after which one is out of breath
  • Sex (assuming afterwards you’re out of breath, haha)
  • Actual Olympic sports

Here are physical activities that  count less as strenuous exercise and more as general movement, the engagement of which is of course important for your health:

  • Standing at one’s desk or a counter for a long time
  • Walking down the shops
  • Getting the door when it goes
  • Visiting the fridge
  • Dealing packs of cards and/or holding them

I mean, I could count typing and having a standing desk as my daily exercise, but it sure as shit isn’t going to make me as fit as professional gymnastics (bet the funding’s about the same though).  Plenty of people sit down for a length of time and use their muscles to hold pieces of paper. Writers, artists, teachers, admin assistants… no one’s campaigning for us to get into Sport England. But bridge is a big part of the lives of a lot of people and should be recognised as a healthy past time. So here is my suggestion:

Make a new Sport England and call it Thought England. Activities could include bridge, chess, battleships, noughts and crosses, origami, writing, puzzle assembling, watercolours, the crossword… all the cool stuff people start when they’re retired and should have started earlier to ward off dementia. That way the best thinkers in the country get to compete and show off their talents and the best athletes get to compete and show off their talents. Separately, because they’re two separate disciplines that just happen to both require discipline.

We could have world record holders for the first people to hold gold medals in long distance running and poker, or 10m diving and crochet. Think about it. I’m going to go read up on how to play bridge.

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