Is Billiards a Sport? Here are the Facts!


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Billiards is one of the most popular games in the world. So popular, that you will regularly see billiards games such as pool and snooker being played on TV. Of course, this has led to many people wondering whether billiards is a sport. After all, it doesn’t require much in the way of physicality. It is mostly skill. On this page, we are going to hopefully answer this question.

So, is billiards a sport? Well, sort-of. Billiards itself isn’t technically a sport. Billiards is the name given to several different games. This is any game played on a billiards table with billiard balls and a cue. This includes pool, snooker, and carom. Some billiards games are regarded as sports, while others are regarded as games. Although, a lot of this distinction is based on who you ask.

We know this can be a bit confusing. Don’t worry. This is why, if you read on, our experts are going to make it a little bit easier for you to understand.

Is Billiards a Sport?

Sort of. It does depend on who you ask, as well as what your definition of a sport actually is. You also need to be aware that there are countless different billiard games. Not all of them are going to be classed as a sport.

In our opinion, a sport is a game with an international governing body that oversees rules and competitions for the game. For others, a sport is a game that requires physical exertion, something which you tend not to get in a game of billiards.

In the eyes of the Olympic Committee, three billiards games are regarded as sports; pool, snooker, and carom. While they have not managed to appear at any Olympic event as of yet, these games have appeared at the World Games and the Asian Games. Therefore, it is pretty tough to deny that these are real sports.

For other billiards games, the question of whether they are a sport or not is somewhat ‘up in the air’. While a few of them do have international bodies overseeing the rules, very few of them have major competitions taking place. They are pretty minor events. As a result, most people are likely to regard them as games instead, particularly since none of them have been recognized as sports by the Olympic Committee.

We like to regard any billiards game that can be played to a competitive level as a sport, no matter whether it involves physical exertion or not. If you can enter regular competitions and win prizes, then you can see it as a sport if you wish. If the game is mostly played in a social setting (e.g. bar billiards), then it is probably just going to be classed as a game.

What is Billiards?

We have been talking a lot about the fact that there are several different games under the billiards banner. So, we thought we would take a look at what billiards actually is.

When most people think of billiards, they think of pocket sports such as pool and snooker. While the rules of these games are slightly different, the overall goal is to try and get the balls into a pocket. Your aim is to get the balls in before the other player. Most billiards games fall into this category.

Snooker Table
Snooker

Not every type of billiards requires pockets, though. Some billiards games are target games (e.g. bar billiards), some are obstacle games (e.g. bottle pool) and others are disc games (e.g. carrom). Some are not even played at the table. Croquet is probably the most popular of these.

Billiards is the generic name given to any sports which require a cue hitting balls. Although, some people also require there to be some sort of table involved. If you go by that definition, then it would rule out Croquet as being billiards.

Does it Matter if Billiards is a Sport or a Game?

For most people it does not. If you are playing at an amateur level, you are going to have the same amount of fun whether it is classed as a sport or a game.

On the professional scene, it does matter. For almost all sports, the ultimate level you can compete at is the Olympic Games. If the International Olympic Commission refuses to recognize a game as a sport, then it doesn’t matter what anybody else classes it as.

The International Olympic Commission currently recognizes pool, snooker, and carom as a sport. This means that, in the eyes of the IOC, every other billiards game is simply a game. Although, the World Confederation of Billiards Sports regards a few more events as sports.

This isn’t to say that only events recognized by the International Olympic Commission are sports. There are plenty of events that have not received recognition but many people would see as sports. If there is some sort of major international competition for a game of billiards, Olympics or not, then it is pretty safe to regard it as a sport.

Will Billiards Ever Appear At the Olympics?

The chances are high.

Since the International Olympic Commission has recognized billiards as a sport, the chances of it being included at the Olympics is higher than ever. In fact, it came exceedingly close to appearing at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Greece. Only two sports were added to this Olympics (out of fifteen) and billiards came in third place.

At the time of writing, there is a strong indication that billiards will appear at the 2024 Olympic Games in France. The sport is currently going through trials. If it does appear at the Olympic Games, expect it to be snooker. It will likely be the European variant of the game, which is played on a slightly longer table.

If billiards does not appear at the next Olympic Games, it will almost certainly appear within the next decade or so. Snooker, in particular, is becoming an even more popular TV event. Viewership is on the rise, and this is exactly the sort of thing the International Olympic Commission wants to see when determining which events to include in the Olympics.

If billiards is recognized as an Olympic Sport, it is unknown how participants will be selected. This is, mostly, down to several different organizations being involved in billiards sports. At this point, it is likely that the World Confederation of Billiards Sports will step in to decide the fairest ruleset to use. 

What is the World Confederation of Billiards Sports?

The World Confedration of Billiards Sports is an organization designed to promote the idea of billiards as being an actual sport. In fact, the aim of the organization is to try and get billiards at the Olympics. One of the only reasons why we have managed to see billiards come close to the Olympics is due to the hard work these guys put in.

We do want to point out that the World Confederation of Billiards Sports is unlike other sporting organizations. With your traditional sporting organization, the rules will be set by the committee. However, since billiards are several different games, this responsibility has been left to individual organizations such as:

  • International Billiards and Snooker Federation
  • World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association
  • World Pool-Billiard Association

The aim of the World Confederation of Billiards Sports is to bring all of these organizations together. They set the rules, while the Confederation puts in the hard work to promote billiards on the world stage. It is the responsibility of the Confederation to put forward events in international tournaments such as the Olympic games. For this, they will work with various organizations to determine the ideal ruleset. 

The World Confederaton of Billiards Sports is currently located in Switzerland. It has members from 130 different countries. While it could feasibly provide recognition for any of the billiards sports (including the non-pocket games), nearly all of the members will be involved in pool, snooker, or carom. However, the confederation could be expanded in the future.

Related Questions

Has billiards appeared at the Olympics?

Billiards has yet to make an appearance at the Olympic Games. However, the Olympic Committee has allowed three billiards games (snooker, pool, and carom) to appear at the World Games. There is a chance that all of these sports could appear at the Olympic Games in the future.

What is the international governing body for billiards?

Billiards is overseen by the World Confederation of Billiards Sports. They do not oversee competition for all variants of billiards. They do have rules defined for several variants of pool, snooker, and carom. They only provide competition for pocket billiards. If a billiards game does not involve pockets, the World Confederation of Billiards Sports classes it as a game.

Will Billiards Appear at the Summer Olympics in France in 2024?

The chances of snooker appearing at the Summer Olympics in France is high. The game is currently going through trials to see whether it is suitable as an Olympic event. If it is deemed as suitable, and the chances of it being so are strong, then it will appear at the Summer Olympics not only in France, but in every event going forward.

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