Nowadays, fewer people are playing bridge and there is a fear within our bridge community that the game may die out if we do not bring in a new generation of players. At the University of Stirling in Scotland, a key part of the Keep Bridge Alive Campaign is to establish the Sociology of Bridge as a new academic field. This will help us attract more players to what we know as the best card game in the world.
As players we are aware that bridge is great for our well-being, for healthy ageing, and for social connection. However, we are failing to communicate and demonstrate these benefits beyond the bridge world in ways that entices others to join our bridge community. One of the problems is that not enough younger people are taking up the game, and we are all getting older. Hence, the time is right for us to develop research to address this issue of a declining bridge community.
How can the Sociology of Bridge contribute to Keeping Bridge Alive?
Sociology is a way of exploring and understanding how society works. Thus, the Sociology of Bridge is about understanding how the bridge world works: what motivates players, opportunities for skill development and the dynamics of the game. By doing research which highlights the benefits and skills that playing bridge provides, we can develop an evidence base to persuade governments and employers to consider investing in introducing more bridge into schools, universities and local community projects.
As players we are aware of how bridge helps us to keep our brains fit and alert, as well as the opportunities it provides to socialise and have fun. Social connection is the number one thing (more important than diet or exercise) in terms of having a longer, healthier and more meaningful life, so the social element of bridge helps us to age well. Bridge also gives us a wide range of skills that are useful in other areas of life and which employers often look for: concentration and focus, problem-solving, analytical thinking as well as partnership skills such as communication, cooperation, patience, empathy and emotional control. These transferable skills are not easily learnt at school nor in any other single game.
Bridge is unique in that it combines all these different elements, which is what makes it so attractive. By setting up the Sociology of Bridge, we will raise the profile of the game and increase its visibility within society. Furthermore, we are fortunate to be supported by the University of Stirling which has a world leading reputation for its research into intergenerationality, ageing and living well.
How can people help to Keep Bridge Alive?
We need players, bridge clubs, bridge organisations, and other supporters to join us in this Keep Bridge Alive campaign so we can publicise and promote bridge to wider sectors of society. We would also be delighted to hear from anyone who has ideas, expertise or even time to volunteer to support the campaign.
Some work has already been done (funded by English Bridge Education and Development), but further research, analysis and writing is required. The money we raise will support two researchers to work with Professor Samantha Punch (International Bridge Player) for a year to produce the evidence and resources that we need to sell bridge beyond the bridge world. In the end we will all benefit by being part of a more vibrant, growing bridge community.
Our ultimate longer-term goal for the Sociology of Bridge is to shift the stereotypical image of it being a game only for older people. However, first we need to develop the research evidence to market bridge to all ages: children, young people, middle aged adults and families, in order to show why bridge can enhance their lives as it has enhanced ours.
Therefore, three key aims of the Sociology of Bridge are to address the image problem of bridge, increase participation and ensure the future sustainability of the game. We are also keen to develop interdisciplinary and cross-cultural projects and plan to secure more funding for a second and third Bridge PhD which will bring new knowledge and insights into the bridge world. Please join us by contributing to this Keep Bridge Alive campaign so that more people, including your children and grandchildren, can share the benefits of this endlessly fascinating mind sport.
The Keep Bridge Alive CrowdFund Campaign will launch on 5 Feb until end of March 2019, early donations to kick start the fund would be hugely appreciated, see:
If anyone would like to find out more, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email Sam directly: email@example.com