Sports vs. Board Games

Photo by Pixabay:

With the Super Bowl just over the horizon, one might wonder what’s in it for us, the gamers of the world who can’t generally be bothered by team sports (or were not athletic enough to participate back in the day, or ever). Good news is that gaming fandom is all the rage. For one thing, e-sports are more popular than ever—who’s to say board gaming won’t be next? To wit, here are a few things board games can offer fans that sports simply cannot…

Close games

Professional sports budgets vary wildly by team; the New York Yankees, for example, work within a pool of money that far surpasses most of the others. Not surprisingly, these sorts of teams stack their benches with the best players available, picking up seasoned free agents and hot new rookies hoping to hitch their wagon to a longtime franchise. As such, these teams also trounce the competition. You won’t see this level of blowout in a board game, as the element of chance eliminates some of the potential for one person to entirely decimate the others based on skill alone—and, vice versa, skill mitigates luck.

Sweet merchandise

Pennants, novelty sized basketballs, team jerseys, mini bats, mini helmets with sundaes in them—team merch is everywhere, and it seems no surface is safe from a sewn-on (or iron-on) Cubs insignia (except for the shirt that reads “back-to-back world champions”). But don’t confuse the ubiquitousness of merchandise with promises of quality, as many of these knick-knacks and vanity items find themselves in junk drawers. But, in board games, branded merchandise is essential to the game. Take those Scrabble-branded boards, those Yahtzee-branded instructions and those Candy Land-branded cards with little squares of color on them. You won’t find those in a box on a dusty shelf! Well, unless you forget to dust.

Opportunities for gambling

Sports betting is more popular than ever thanks largely to the advent of gambling apps and easy betting websites offering special deals. But does anyone actually make any money? How unique is it REALLY to bet on the Los Angeles Lakers or Golden State Warriors? Big risk there! The spreads are probably so slim that emerging with more than a dollar of profit is a pipe dream. Enter board gaming, where the odds are odd and the stakes are entirely novel as nobody in their right mind would bet on the outcome of a board game (see above re: luck). All the more potential to risk and win it all at Risk! Hot tip: When preparing your fantasy Carcassone pool, go for orange Meeples.

Cardiovascular exercise

Fans are not participants, yet traversing a sports arena requires some major fortitude—navigating so many winding hallways and beer lines takes a lot out of a person, muscularly. No wonder those nachos were devoured—carbo loading is essential. This level of exercise is simply not sustainable, though, as the goal of attending a live sporting event should be to watch the sporting event. Board games lack the one thing sports have that keeps people from reaching their true fitness potential: a timer. With only a few hours to play the game, the sport must keep marching on. Board games do not need to adhere to this schedule, meaning you can take a much-needed week off between rounds to train for, and participate in, and drop out of, multiple marathons. Don’t forget to stretch!


No amount of Michael Jordan jerseys can make someone Michael Jordan just as no amount of shouting support for Serena Williams can improve your serve. Being a fan of sports is a way to meet people and feel part of a group, yet who are you, really, in that scenario? An outsider merely peeking in? A voyeur? A tourist? Board games turn watchers into players, passive participants into active advocates and losers into, well, probably still a loser but with at least a chance of being someone. An orange Meeple, perhaps? Someone of consequence. And this is where true victory lies.

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