Should Esports Be Considered A Sport?

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Brendan Conley, Contributor

Video Games are first and foremost a source of entertainment, designed to engage the player for extended periods of time. Video games provide a little bit of something for everyone; there are games focused on setting and story, while other games are more gameplay-based as opposed to taking the narrative route. But by far the most popular form of gaming is competitive gaming, games where players are pitted against each other, the most obvious examples being racing games, strategy games, fighting games, sports games and, of course, first-person shooters. With so many genres of competitive gaming, not only is there a huge fanbase for it, but there’s also an audience for it. This is what Esports stems from, where professional gamers play in teams in large competitions with thousands of people watching. However, not everyone agrees that esports is actually a “sport.”  I think Esports is absolutely a sport because the effort required to be at the top is on par with that of traditional sports.

According to Oxford Languages, the definition of a sport is “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment”. At face value, by definition esports is not a sport, but there are a couple of problems with this. First of all, nowhere in the definition does it say that a sport requires “athleticism”, simply that you exert yourself physically. When playing competitive games, specifically shooters in general, you need to have quick reflexes and constantly pay attention, at least when you’re playing in a professional setting. This kind of activity can be draining over long periods, such as exerting oneself physically. Another point to make is that chess, a board game, is considered to be a sport, which arguably is even less physically demanding than esports. 

Another argument made by people who disagree with the idea of Esports being a sport is that you can’t be a “professional” in something that involves you simply sitting down in front of a computer and pressing buttons, that source being my mother, and to that, I say these people need to try playing a video game. Playing a video game is no different than playing any athletic sport when it comes to the time and dedication one needs to apply in order to excel. A professional Esports player must spend hours upon hours of time playing just one game in order to stay in the top 1% of players, and being a gamer myself I can safely say, spending so much time playing games, let alone one game for hours on end, can be mentally straining. 

But that aside, even playing casually, skill is involved.  For example, the game Call of Duty has a huge skill gap. I have been playing this game franchise since I was 4 years old and I can barely be considered above average 12 years later. When I’m playing I am considering all possible routes to travel in order to reach the enemy, considering the weapons I should use for the possible engagements ahead and trying to decide what strategies would work best to accomplish my goal. Keep in mind all of these thoughts take place over the course of a few seconds as the battle around me in the game is fast-paced and a single second could change whether or not I die and am forced to respawn. You can take any person who is skilled in one game, and if you place them in another that they are completely unfamiliar with it, is very likely that they will be bad at it. So yes, it is completely within reason to be considered a professional gamer.

So with all this in mind, I believe that esports is in fact a real sport. The amount of time, skill and stress required to be at the top is overwhelming, to say the least, and people who do not play games competitively should not be allowed to define why esports is or isn’t a sport.