E-Sports Should Count as Sports

John Kim, Writer

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With the advent of the popular games starting in the late 20th century, competitive gaming (esports) scene has been on the rise. Though the concept of esports existed before, it gained its initial spark with the release of the original Starcraft, especially in Korea, and esports has since grown larger and larger as the time passed and more games were released. Now, there are numerous leagues, organizations and players participating in the relatively recent phenomenon of esports: popular esports titles include League of Legends, Overwatch, Rainbow Six Siege, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Super Smash Bros., and Streetfighter.

An e-sports victory is celebrated with confetti. (Photo by John Kim)

However, with this impressive expansion of the scene, there also came strong backlashes from those who intransigently maintain their view that esports is not a genuine sport. Naturally, this has precipitated a somewhat fierce debate between the factions.

Cutting to the chase, esports is definitely a genuine category of sports as there are no clear, reasonable rationale behind the opposing rationale. According to Google, sports are activities involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. Esports essentially conforms to every part of the definition. Playing games, although requiring demanding low physical exertion compared to traditional sports, is indeed a physical activity. In addition, at the highest level, esports requires players to be extremely skillful, and as esports gain more attraction and as more highly skilled players join the scene, the skill ceiling will be only raised from here.

Moreover, in recent years, esports has shown impressive statistics regarding their entertainment value. In 2015, 36 million viewers tuned in to watch the League of Legends World Championship final, compared to 20 million of the the same year’s NBA final and 14.7 million of the World Series. As their viewership grows, esports leagues have been expanding as well. 

Though there has been a constant improvement in people’s attitude toward treating esports as sports, some still choose to hold the obsolete view of denying esport’s validity. They claim that the lack of physical activity prevents esports from becoming a genuine type of sports, and they question what possible entertainment value people can achieve from watching others play video games.

Even though it is absolutely true that esports lack physical activity compared to traditional sports, this doesn’t prevent esports from being a type of sports. Over time as the world around us changes, it is only natural for words to also shift in its meanings; current definition of sports clearly has nothing to deny esports’ legitimacy. Also, questioning the entertainment value of esports in extremely self-centered, and even hypocritical if one’s a fan of traditional sports. There is literally no difference in watching someone play, for example, football and watching someone play a video game; they are just both watching someone else play what one enjoys.

For these reasons, the validity of esports as sports is quite evident. The only difference is perhaps the lack of physical exertion, which in no way should prevent esports from being perceived as legitimate sports. Esports players show the same competitiveness, commitment, rigor, and dedication as any traditional sports players, trying their best to accomplish their objective. 

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