Is Pool / Snooker a Sport or a Game?

Pool cues and balls

Pool and snooker are widely known as cue sports, as they are played with a cue stick used to strike billiard balls. There remains a lurking sense of doubt among the remainder that these two table-focused activities are not sports at all – and are games that you partake in with your buddies when you’ve got some spare change in your pocket and conversation has run a little dry in the pub.

Here we take a look at whether pool and snooker are cue sports like many claim, or whether, in fact, the minority are in the right and they are no more than just games.

The Perception of Pool in the Past

Like darts, snooker and pool were two (of few) sports where participants would openly drink and smoke mid-match. Things have changed now. Nevertheless, images of snooker players leaning back in the chairs watching their opponent whilst cradling a pint and puffing on a cigarette remain firmly etched into many people’s minds whenever these cue sports are brought up in conversation.

Perhaps snooker and pool were a little late to actively take measures to prevent players from engaging in playful “pub-like” behaviour during gameplay, but this is partly due to the fact that both games derive from a pub environment and involve many breaks in play. Journey back a few decades and you’ll find scrambled footage of rugby players holding aloft trophies and celebrating in the changing rooms after a win with cigarettes dangling from their lips.

This kind of behaviour was not so taboo back then and many athletes engaged in it. Of course, the world has gotten healthier now and sportsmen are quite rightly expected to be among the very fittest people on the planet.

The Modern Version and the Focus on Performance

Snooker and pool players were some of the last “athletes” to change their ways, but many of them have done so – and there’s no smoking and drinking in British matches anymore. Both games have steadily begun to receive far more attention as the years have gone by, receiving higher amounts of television coverage and a greater deal of analysis and evaluation. With the public eye now firmly on these cue sports, participants have gone to great lengths to behave appropriately and act, as well as look, like the athletes that many consider them to be.

Sports are defined as requiring some amount of “physical prowess”, and many will argue that snooker and pool involve minimal movement from start to finish. After all, aren’t cue sports just a case of leaning over a table and sliding a cue through your fingertips?

In Conclusion

Having a quick game of pool or snooker in the pub with your buddies might not take much of a toll on your body, especially when you’re laughing and joking between shots and taking as much time as you need. For the professional players though, it’s a whole different kettle of fish. Practicing and playing matches can, in fact, be a somewhat gruelling affair – placing enormous amounts of pressure on the chest, back, legs, and arms.

Ask any pro snooker player about it and they’ll be quick to admit there have been times where they’ve found themselves massaging a part of their body in order to ready themselves for the next shot. It might not involve extreme physical contact with other participants, but snooker and pool do require a much higher degree of physical exertion than many are aware of (and far more physical exertion than other activities labelled as mere "games").

Those who regard snooker and pool as games as opposed to sports will find solace in the fact that neither of these activities have made it into the 2020 Olympics – despite the former launching a bid to take place in Tokyo. Nevertheless, whilst the world’s biggest sporting body might not yet be ready to accept cue sports, Britain certainly has. Take a quick trip over to and you’ll see that pool, snooker and billiards are all recognised by national governing bodies – proving that this trio of table games are, in fact, sports after all.

Wherever you are in the world it’s clear that both snooker and pool are a lot more than just pub games these days. They are up there with the likes of football, rugby, cricket, and tennis and should definitely be considered sports.