Let's dredge up this one again. Why not? Chess isn't recognised as a sport; not by the IOC, not by the British Government, not by most people. But I'm going to suggest, with my tongue gently brushing my cheek, that it's because of a lack of famous commentaries.
Smith didn't score
Name a sport.
"Er...Formula 1, Jeff."
All right, then.
Such commentary only exists because of the media coverage existing. And it exists because there's a market for it, and because people like Murray Walker and Martin Brundle can keep an audience enthralled through even the boring stuff. Last week, on his 5Live show, Danny Baker started a feature called 'Retired footballers read the dull bits from erotic fiction'. The cult of personality in football exists because of the saturation of media coverage and the opportunity to develop a relationship with the key protagonists. In chess, well, no.
And here's the problem, which, as far as I can make out, isn't going to be solved any time soon. Poker works on TV because the narrative of a tournament or cash game doesn't require an explanation of the whole. It's possible to broadcast only the key moments as every individual hand is a distinct entity. What the viewer sees as a 45 minute rollercoaster was actually filmed over many, many hours. I'm not convinced such an approach is possible in chess because, at the elite level, the concepts themselves will take a long time to explain properly. And commentating on blitz games, while exciting, doesn't leave time for decent explanation, nor is it an indicator of what chess is really about. Though I'll admit that I could listen to Maurice Ashley all day.
I suppose, if that's the only way of making it accessible, then chess is probably better off not being in the mix.