Esports are seen to be unconventional when sports are discussed. Rather than the typical idea of sports, esports are different because it is just people playing video games, right? Sports require a sense of physicality; they can improve mental well-being and there is a social element involved too. All of these can be discussed in relation to esports.
Obviously, with esports, the games are locked within a virtual world and thus may not be seen as physical activities. However, the player of a video game physically becomes involved through precise button presses and a physical presence in general. Without the physical human being, video games would not be played. Now, you could say anything involving a person is a sport with this concept. However, if you bring entertainment, competition, and hard work into the fray, esports have strong connections to the overall idea of sports.
In terms of mental (and physical) well-being, esports offer the ability to improve these. To be a good player, mental well-being is often required to be at your best and to keep your concentration, sometimes for several hours in a row. With mental well-being often comes physical well-being, so that means the gym is an option for esports players to maintain stamina while playing for hours on end. In this sense, physical and mental preparation is important to being at the top of your game, just like any other sport. I could not turn up to a football match and play well while being unhealthy and having things on my mind. The same applies to esports.
Even if you disregard the idea of esports players requiring physical and mental well-being, you cannot deny the amount of training required to be at the top level in a video game. The likes of Fortnite, Rocket League, Overwatch and Dota 2 require thousands of hours to master. You need to know how every mechanic works, how each character functions, the mechanics of a game off by heart and much, much more. You cannot jump into a video game and be anywhere near the level of the best players.
Thus, it is hard not to appreciate the dedication and expertise of these players. The same applies to any sport. It takes many hours across many years to play at a competitive level. Like any sport, you can hop in and enjoy playing causally, but you will not be a master. Now can you see the similarities?
And treating them separately can cause harm for aspiring eSport athletes. It removes opportunity for college scholarships, it enables parents to continue disallowing their children to practice because of the stigma, and it can really eliminate with enormous potential from the growing esports industry.
We actually sat down with Team Assault, and up and coming Esports organization that actively advocates esports being accepted into the mainstream as a legitimate sport. We spoke with Team Assault’s CEO Anthony Cruz aka Cass (Twitter: @OfficialxCass), Freddy Ortiz, the owner of Assault (Twitter: @itsFreddylol); and the co-owner of Assault, Daysmiel Morejon aka Sae (Twitter: @Saelols). Anthony explains that one of Assault’s initiatives is helping members of the organization find scholarships for college. Anthony says, “at Assault, we realize that like anything else, everyone should have a backup plan and education should still be prioritized while pursuing competitive gaming. And we’re really excited to see so many universities begin to recognize esports as a sport, and scholarships targeting eSport athletes. And while great progress is being made, we’re still far short of providing eSport athletes with the same opportunities that traditional athletes have now, and this creates a serious problem.”
And so, the question is begged, what truly constitutes a sport? Must one simply be standing and moving? If an eSport athlete is dedicating their lives to their craft, waking up every day with the goal of improving, balancing their normal responsibilities well, and taking the game serious, then why should they be disallowed to participate in the benefits that traditional athletes enjoy, especially at the college and professional level? The fact of the matter is, esports is as much of a sport as football, soccer, basketball, and any other sport that the social norms previously allowed. We must break these norms, realize the massive opportunity in esports, and allow the sector and athletes to flourish.