Why Esports is a real sport.

It has been hotly debated as to weather or not esports should be considered a sport. Gaming is one of the big up and coming industries, surpassing both the music ($17 billion) and film ($41 billion) industries in 2017 with a colossal $116 billion dollars at the end of 2017.

Source: GameCrate

It’s also played all over the world over many different games and platforms. Esports should be considered a sport because it is one of the great up and coming industries. It appears that anything that’s skill and strategy based should be considered a sport and the sooner we accept it, the sooner we can get young people out of their bedrooms and into the spotlight. Over 60% of the gaming community are under the age of 35, which shows that it is a promising industry with a big community of support all the way through.

What is a sport?

A sport is an activity involving physical exertion and skill, in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. By this definition gaming can be classed as a sport alongside favourites such as football and rugby. 

If it’s not physical, how can it be a sport?

The argument could be made that gaming is not a physical exercise , but neither are other sports such as golf or bowls. Esports can also be comparable to some of the less active sports which focus on the exercise of the brain rather than the body, the obvious comparison can be made to chess. Chess requires less physical movement than an esport game like league of legends, StarCraft 2, or CS:GO. In the US they recognise professional esports players as athletes, at least when it comes to granting visas.

What makes Esports unique?

Esports isn’t just one game, it’s a selection of very different games across different genres. Thus, its really hard to group them all under one name. Most esports fans will watch only one or two different games. The same is true of sponsors, companies can only really invest in a couple of games due to the vast variety. Big companies, such as Intel, have helped in setting up leagues and developing esports progression. Gaming also allows the talent of all genders to compete, breaking down problems other sports have. Gaming also has a much more diverse audience. One of the biggest games, Overwatch, boasts that 16% of its player base was female in 2017. Esports also has the advantage of being new, so people can support whoever they want without pressure from family or friends like other sports. 

The Social Side of Esports

Esports professionals and streamers are starting to become just as popular, if not more so, than some professional athletes. Most big teams are investing into new esports franchises: such as PSG (Paris Saint Germain) and FC Schalke 04. There’s also a high chance of esports being added to the Olympics as a sport by 2024, having already solidified a spot at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. The Asian Games being the 2nd biggest sporting competition worldwide, behind the Olympics. Esports has entered the collegiate sports arena, where students can land esports scholarships and get paid to play. There are more than thirty U.S. colleges and universities that offer scholarships for gamers. Ranking them up with football or basketball players. Big teams have been developed which are gaining fans and attention, as more games are launched into esports competitions.

Comparison between esports and traditional sports

Now let’s talk about the similarities in the professional industry of esports and traditional sports. Both are in stadiums where people watch the players perform. Both involve the paying, signing, and trading of players. As well as league tables and tournaments, up to and including world cup events. Esports players are also paid a professional sports person’s wage. For example, when a new Overwatch League team announced its $150,000 per annual contract for one of its players. The Overwatch League has also introduced a minimum wage for professional players at $50,000, although this is next to nothing compared to a professional football player. It shows the development in the industry and how people should start taking it as a serious sport.

Exposure of Esports

Even huge sports television channel ESPN have opened up a whole new esports tab on their website. Showing how esports is being valued as a real sport. As well, Sky Sports launching their esports section of their news. Esports is being presented alongside traditional sports, there’s very little difference between them. There are also channels which show full 24/7 coverage of esports, such as GINX Esports TV. This makes the community more accessible and easier to watch.

Sponsors

Sponsors play a huge part of esports, unlike an existing sport like football. For example, nobody loves Chevrolet because they sponsor Manchester United. However, with an upcoming esports community, the sponsors make so much difference that people really appreciate it. Without the sponsor, the team couldn’t play, therefore, the fans wouldn’t be able to watch. An example of this would be OMEN by HP sponsoring the Overwatch World Cup. You could sense the fans appreciation, going as far as making their signs around the companies.

Conclusion

Gaming is indisputably a sport, just like any other athletic endeavor, it requires tremendous skill and strategy. It can be played individually or in a team. Serious esports athletes train for months on end, displaying strong mental focus, quick reaction time, and extreme dedication as they compete.

Dominic Fenn