When talking about sports, people expect competition and something of a rather physical nature, which puts one person or team, against another person or team, to see who is better, and therefore, who will win a prize. For ages, sports have been pretty easy to define, especially for purists. As new ways of competing were invented, people had to make room for them as well, to become new sports and support new challengers.
That is, until esports became real. Electronic sports, or esports, is a way of competing by using computers or consoles. The athletes are seated, either one next to another, if fighting games are in question, or opposing one another, when team games are played, so that they can never see each others’ screens.
Many people still question whether esports are actually sports and the eternal debate goes on. Our take on things is pretty positive for esports. We consider them sports and here is why.
Rigorous Practice Schedules
To be a professional in any video game, first you have to master the mechanics of the game. That takes lots of dedication, time, effort and stress. Imagine grinding the training room of Street Fighter IV or V to try out specific combos which are so touch sensitive that even a couple of milliseconds of time sends you back to the start of the combo. Games with strategic elements like MOBAs or tactical shooters have an entire other aspect which you have to master. Since most of them are team games, it means that you will not only have to master the mechanics of the game, but also learn how to function as a team with other people, and then practice different strategies and tactics. A typical working day of a professional gamer is around 12 hours. Some have longer working days, up to 16 hours. Most professionals keep on practicing even after official team practice is over. These schedules are comparable to those of any other “real” athlete.
There are plenty of esports athletes who have had serious injuries in their wrists, shoulders, back or necks.
The cynical will say that those injuries came about because of them sitting in a chair all day, while that in fact is not the case. Most teams have physical therapists and doctors on standby, who help design their schedules, which include obligatory physical exercise. Some professionals have had to retire due to injuries.
Games like CS: GO, League of Legends, Dota 2, Rainbow Six Siege and Fortnite, all have huge competitions and lots of money involved. Most teams have a plethora of sponsors, for example, League of Legends teams are sponsored by BMW, Audi, Kia, Honda and more. These are very serious sponsors, which not only help the teams and the esport in question, but also promote the brands themselves. Tournaments are also sponsored, often by a single large sponsor, and multiple smaller ones, each of them having their own advertising space.
The IOC Thumbs Up
The International Olympic Committee has reviewed esports titles as a potential candidate for future Olympic Games, though they are cautious about the inherent violence in most esports titles, which goes against the principles of the Olympic Games.
From injuries, prizes, rigorous exercise and the IOC giving their thumbs up, esports should definitely be considered sports.