Ever since the term “eSports” was first coined to describe competitive video gaming, the debate has raged as to whether this fast-growing and incredibly popular form of team competition should be labelled and thus considered to be a legitimate sport. There are plenty of legitimate and valid arguments on both sides, so let’s investigate them.
Are eSports Really Sports?
The most common argument against eSports being grouped in with regular sporting disciplines is the lack of physical activity – there is no running, fighting, jumping, throwing, or any other sort of strenuous and demanding physical activity involved. On the other hand, that simple fact has not prevented other pastimes from being accepted as a legitimate sport – in fact, take the game of chess, for example, which has been accepted to be a regular sporting activity for many years. When the decision to accept chess as a sport was made, the arguments were weighed up according to how much of what people love about sports could also be found in chess.
All sports require a degree of skill, whether mental, physical, or both; they demand that strategy is employed to outwit or outperform your opponent. Team sports obviously introduce the need to work together with those on your own side to gain an advantage over the opposing team. Aside from the first-hand action on the track or field, however, there are also several other aspects of sport which make it so incredibly interesting, exciting, and popular.
Evaluating Sports vs eSports
Betting is a huge part of what makes regular sports the worldwide sensation that they are. Whether we are talking about those involved in sports betting Canada or in other parts of the world, many spectators love to put a bet on their favorite players and teams, even if they aren’t always convinced that they have the skill to win their next contest. In North American sports, the draft process is one of the most exciting pieces of the puzzle too, and the arrangement of a season into a tournament structure also helps to mix a little luck in with the essential skill component, which contributes towards ensuring things don’t become stale with only a single dominating team collecting the highest accolades every year.
Taking all the factors noted above into account, eSports is undoubtedly a genuine sport – it ticks all the same boxes, requires all of the same skills, dedication, and a little bit of luck; you can make a wager on your preferred players and teams, and players can be transferred between teams if they wish.
So. is this enough to say that eSports should gain immediate recognition as a sport?
eSports Recognition by Country
Here’s the thing – sport is a worldwide activity, which always increases the difficulty of enacting any kind of enforceable rules or legislation around an activity, rule, or law. There are several countries that have already made a decision regarding this matter and have put the relevant changes and arrangements into place to ensure that those who are participating in eSports are considered as a fully recognized athlete.
The first country to do this was South Korea, which was one of the first nations around the world to embrace eSports as a legitimate form of competition. The biggest eSports competitions and tournaments are hugely popular all-around South Korea, with crowds of more than a hundred thousand spectators regularly showing up at stadiums and arenas to watch the biggest teams play at the highest level. These events are almost always a total sellout, suggesting that even more people would be there if they were able to purchase a ticket.
Other places have a very different opinion on the matter, however; in Germany, eSports is still an extremely popular activity which attracts many spectators, but the public at large has voiced a very strong opposition towards these matches being placed on the same level as other forms of competitive sport. German Olympic officials were reportedly quoted as having said that eSports is no more a sport than knitting, which is quite shocking if true.
In the middle of the pack, you have countries such as the United States, which treats eSports players just like other athletes who play sport in the country. eSports players can obtain an athletic visa to enter the country, exactly like any other athlete, although there has been reports of players from a handful of nations having difficulty obtaining a visa when trying to compete in eSports in the US.
The Future for eSports
When the first eSports tournaments were held over a decade ago, some critics suggested that the whole thing would never take off – it was a fad, they said, and would be forgotten in just a few years. It’s now clear that this view was entirely incorrect. eSports has continued to grow every year since it began and is a billion-dollar industry now in 2022. It’s difficult to estimate exactly how many fans eSports has around the world, but it is certainly in the tens of millions – hardly a minor fad.
If eSports continues to grow on the trajectory, it has up to this point, it seems inevitable that most countries will eventually recognize it as a legitimate sport. The younger generations overwhelmingly hold the view that eSports deserves to be recognized as such, and in time those people will become the majority. Some cynics still believe that eSports is a dying trend, but official statistics and predictions say different.
In sports, nothing is ever a sure thing – but if the past decade is anything to go by, it would take a brave bettor to wager against eSports becoming a true sporting discipline in the end.