Professional, but not athletes

Illustration by Brooke Berry

When you hear the word athlete, you picture someone strong, fast or in shape — someone who can take part in physical activities and excel at them.

The definition of the word athlete according to Merriam-Webster dictionary is “a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports or games requiring physical strength, agility or stamina.”

It does not take physical strength to play video games.

Esports are professional video game tournaments for a large variety of video games. Teams of skilled players go head-to-head in games such as “League of Legends” and “Overwatch” in a bracket-like setting, where one team moves on and the other is eliminated from play or sent to the loser bracket.

The players for these teams are extremely talented when it comes to their game of choice. But just because you are skilled with a mouse and keyboard doesn’t mean you should be placed in the same category as professional athletes such as Odell Beckham Jr., LeBron James or Mike Trout.

Do I believe that what these video game players are doing is challenging? Yes, I do. There is no possible way I could be as good as them. Should they keep having these tournaments? Yes, they should. They are skilled gamers, just not athletes.

If you are a person who thinks what I am saying is completely wrong, then would you consider professional poker players to be athletes as well? They are sitting at tables playing cards. Yes, there is a strategy, but there is no athletic movement at all. No running, jumping or anything like that.

Any professional gamer has a very slim chance of being able to do any of the physical things that football or baseball players can do. I don’t believe that a “League of Legends” player could hit a major league fastball that comes in around 90 to 95 mph.

If you flip the scenario, I do think a baseball player could play “League of Legends.” Not as well as the pros, but enough to get by.

The video game world should continue to grow. They all should be proud of what they are able to accomplish. They are all very skilled at playing a game that requires no athletic movement at all, which is completely fine. Just don’t tell me that you should be grouped with professional football or baseball players. Stay in the lane you have made yourself.

The “athlete or not” debate will continue for as long as we have Esports.

There will not be a time where I consider gamers who sit in chairs, hit keys and click multiple times really fast to be in the same category as a person who can run a 4.3-second 40-yard dash or have a broad jump of 12 feet. That is just not going to happen.

It is almost like saying a duck is the same as a lion, which we all know is not the case.