France’s Fencing Federation recognised lightsaber duelling as an official sport on Monday, saying it had registered 1,100 practitioners and 92 lightsaber-duelling clubs so far.
The new Star Wars-inspired sport has stringent rules, with umpires carefully monitoring each 3-minute match.
Fencing Federation chief Serge Aubailly told Associated Press he hoped the move would “create a bond between our discipline and modern technologies” and encourage youngsters who only “exercise with their thumbs” to practice more sports.
The decision revives a perennial question: what constitutes a sport? And who decides?
The secretive Olympic Committee [IOC] is arguably — though not undisputedly — world arbiter of a sport’s ‘seriousness’. It officialised several new sports for the 2020 olympics: karate, skateboarding, and surfing.
But the IOC’s recognition of “sport climbing” requires climbers to perform all three of the sport’s formats at once, akin to “asking Usain Bolt to run a marathon then do the hurdles.”
Moreover, the Committee’s refusal to recognise established international sports like squash, cricket, or Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) disgruntles many of its practitioners.
Should the definition of “sport” be standardised? And if so, who by?
Credit for this article's header image goes to Getty.