2012 Olympics: Chess should be included – for players and parents
Chess isn't included in the list of events for the 2012 Olympics, though as an officially-recognized sport, it should be. Like other sports, chess attracts driven players and supportive parents to world competitions.
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“I think there are two types of parents in any sport,” Polgar said. “Those who recognize the child's potential and support the child wholeheartedly, sacrificing for the child's dream. Then there are the parents who try to live out their own unfulfilled dreams, through their children. Both of my parents recognized our potential, and they also sacrificed everything for us to succeed.”Skip to next paragraph
Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.
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I always thought of chess as an elitist game until I began working with kids in a free inner-city chess program for low-income and at-risk children. The program opened doors to what has been an exclusive sport, making it accessible to all children. I have seen the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. Kids gather around and cheer in team events called "bughouse chess."
We need a hundred more Maurice Ashleys (the first African-American grandmaster) and way more female players on the boards. Chess can take kids to all the great destinations where other sports go, plus there are also opportunities for different scholarships.
Chess players and athletes aren't as separate as you may think. In fact, some of the biggest names in sport also have game in chess including NBA past and present stars such as Kobe Bryant, the late Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Danny Ainge, Latrell Sprewell, Steve Smith and Jason Williams. And don’t forget former and current tennis players Boris Becker, Anna Kournikova, John McEnroe, Roger Federer, Jennifer Capriati, and Ivan Lendl. There are also professional sports coaches who support or have supported chess: Rick Carlisle of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, former NBA head coach Flip Saunders, and the late Bill Walsh of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers.
Harkening back to chess parents, Queen Elizabeth II is an avid player. Perhaps Her Majesty will demonstrate the power of her position both on and off the board by decreeing that the Olympiads merge in future?
It would certainly put Great Britain and many other nations on the medal stand with greater frequency.
What do you say Madam, shall the games begin?