Is Pool a Sport? All You Need to Know

Maybe you’re playing a round of pool with friends and someone asks if Pool is a sport.

Or maybe you’re performing at the tournament level and want to know if you can officially add “professional athlete” to your dating profile.

Perhaps you’re wondering why ping pong and bowling are Olympic sports, but Pool is not.

Is Pool a proper sport or just a bar game thing?

To answer the question – The World Games are run by the International World Games Association and the IOC. Both groups have recognized Pool as a sport.

Some Say It Is, Others Say It Isn’t

You are good at pool. You have your favorite shot and you’ve developed a level of skill at the game that few have.

But you’ve never wondered, is Pool a sport? Who cares about this?

Those playing on the professional level are the ones who care. Billiard sports have leagues that play tournaments all over the world.

If you get far enough along at the tournament level of a sport, you can play in the Olympics.

There’s no denying in our world culture that the Olympics has an impact on what sports have legitimacy.

Since the first Olympics, hundreds of sports have been recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

While Pool is not considered an Olympic sport, it is recognized by the IOC. Interestingly, Pool is present in the World Games.

The World Games are run by the International World Games Association and the IOC. Both groups have recognized Pool as a sport.

For now, it’s fair to point out that this question matters to a lot of people.

For many, there is simply a need to respect pool as more than just a pub game that you can still be relatively good at after a few too many beers.

The Difference Between a Sport and a Game

People try to trivialize something by calling it a game. Maybe it feels more childish to call it a game rather than a sport.

But games and sports are practically the same things. 

To answer our question, let’s look at all the information.

A Game Versus a Sport

This technicality is where things get fussy. The English language has made the difference between a game and a sport almost non-existent. 

For our purposes, Merriam-Webster defines the word “game” as a competition, either physical or mental, with rules, between two opponents.

That doesn’t get us any closer. If you look at the philosophical concept of a game, Caillois breaks down the idea of a game into either an activity of competition, chance, simulation, or lack of physical control.

This doesn’t help much either when comparing it to a sport.

Let’s focus on how “sport” is defined by the IOC, the organization that rules over sports.

They recognize billiards as a sport. The WCBS even has a page on the International Olympic Committee website

According to the IOC, billiard sports are sports. So, yes, Pool is a sport.

A Professional Sport or a Game for Fun

Let’s look at it from a practical standpoint., since you’re probably not going to be going to the Olympics any time soon.

How do you prove pool is a sport to your friends when they challenge your logic? 

Here are some of the common arguments and how to respond to them.

“Pool Is Just a Bar Game!”

Not true.

You can play a game of pool. You can have a football game. The fact that it’s a game doesn’t matter. The Olympic Games are where sports are played! 

Also, the IOC recognizes Pool as a real sport with its own sports confederation.

“But Pool Doesn’t Take Any Skill!”

Actually, Pool requires significant skill and mental effort.

When you’re having a beer with your buds, you may not be exerting yourself over a game of pool. It is just that—a game. 

But that doesn’t take away from its legitimacy as a sport.

There are things you need to familiarize yourself with to even play the game properly:

  • Know what size cue is appropriate for you
  • Understand the difference between the solids, stripes, the 8-ball, and cue ball
  • Familiarize yourself with the rules of the game
  • Master a hand-position that works for you
  • Be able to control the speed of the ball
  • Learn a proper stance that works for you
  • Know to line up a shot

Getting good at the Pool Table games takes a level of skill that, yes, can be done while drinking, but doesn’t that make it even more impressive?

FAQs About Pool

Besides our question “is Pool a sport,” here are a few other popular questions about the game:

How Long Has Pool Been Played Professionally?

Billiards had their first professional annual championship in 1878, with the pool game 4-ball being the star. 

This increased the international popularity of the sport.

As a result, the game of 9-ball, what is known as “pool” today, was invented in 1900.

What Are Cue Balls Made From?

While they were originally made from ivory, today they are made from a combination of resin and plastic.

How Do You Explain the Object of a Game of Pool?

You’re trying to pocket all your designated balls first (either stripes or solids), then the 8-ball, to win the game.

Don’t pocket the 8-ball too early or you automatically end the game and lose.

Why Are Most Pool Tables Green?

Billiards has roots in a lawn game that was played in the 14th century in France.

When billiards was invented and played by France’s King Louis the XI, it was decided to line the table with green fabric, so it appeared to be played on grass.

Is Pool Good Exercise?

Pool is a low-impact way to build back, arm, and leg strength.

It also helps to improve balance and hand-eye coordination.

Pool Through History

To answer our question as to whether Pool is a sport, we need to break down some basic information on the Pool itself.

That will help us understand some of the nuances of what’s going on concerning the controversy.

Pool Is a Billiards Sport

A form of billiards was played in France as far back as the 14th century.

In the late 19th century, billiard sports were brought to the United States from England.

A few years later, you could find dozens of billiard halls in large cities like Chicago.

Billiard halls or pool halls became a colorful part of American culture in the 20th century.

Alcohol was served in these establishments, and you could also play other games like cards and darts.

There are 3 categories of billiard sports, or cue sports, that are played today in different parts of the world. These categories are as follows:

  • Carom
  • Pool
  • Snooker

These categories break down into individual games.

Under pool alone, there are over 20 games that are played on a pool table. Nine-ball, the most popular of these games in the US, is the game generally referred to today as “pool.”

Pool remains popular today in halls as well as pubs and other gathering places.

Snooker is most popular in the UK and is surging in popularity in China and other parts of Asia.

If you get good at pool and want to join a league, you can find them all over the world.

In 1994 cue sports had their first annual international tournament called the Mosconi Cup. This is a nine-ball tournament between teams from Europe and the United States.

Billiards Sports Seek the Olympics

It makes sense that those at the highest level of professional billiards competitions would want to see the game played in the Olympics.

This is the ultimate recognition for any sport!

In 1998 the World Confederation of Billiards Sports (WCBS) was formed to meet the requirements of the International Olympics Committee (IOC) that defines a “sport” as something that has its own international sports federation.

Over the years, there have been regular campaigns to see a billiards sport in the Summer Olympics, but none of these campaigns have been successful. 

While the IOC now recognizes billiards as a sport, they haven’t been green-lighted for the Games for different reasons.

One major reason is the lack of popularity on the international level. There’s also the opinion among players that gambling within the sport is keeping it from the Olympic Games. 

Some say it just doesn’t have the reputation as a sport that involves much mental and physical skill.

A lot of pool players think that we’ll see billiards sports in the Olympics this decade.

Others question why breakdancing was accepted over Pool in the 2020 Olympic Games. 

It always comes back to the question as to whether Pool is a sport or just a bar game.

So, Is Pool a Sport?

Pool is a billiards sport played on the local, national, and international levels in leagues.

It has an international confederation and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

Yes, Pool is a sport. It takes skill and practice to perform, no matter on what level it’s played.

Other articles you may also like: