When I was a kid, there were only a few things that piqued my interest: writing, baseball and video games. About 15 years later, nothing has changed. I write for The Lumberjack, I watch baseball religiously and I play video games every day, typically either Minecraft, Rocket League, MLB The Show or a combination of all three.
I love playing video games, I think it’s a great hobby and gives people something to look forward to after a long day at work or school. It is an opportunity to relax, unwind and play your heart out.
Many gamers probably wouldn’t consider themselves to be a competitive gamer. I casually play games to simply play. However, just because some are not a part of the competitive gaming atmosphere doesn’t mean playing video games shouldn’t be considered a sport, and participating gamers shouldn’t be considered athletes. I mean, let’s be honest, if we can classify NASCAR as a sport, then why can’t we do the same for esports?
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists several definitions for the word “sport,” but the one that stands out is that sports are “a physical activity engaged in for pleasure.” Based on this definition, esports should be classified as a sport. The word “athlete,” as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a person who is trained or skilled in exercise, sports or games requiring physical strength, agility or stamina.” Again, based on this definition, esports competitive gamers should be classified as athletes.
Esports should be considered a sport and taken seriously because it is a competition between teams attempting to win a match. Gamers compete against each other, require stamina and endurance to play for several hours at a time and need to strategize. A gamer needs to have the mental endurance to continue playing and adjust mid-game to defeat their opponent. For these reasons, I believe esports and its gamers should be right there with all the other mainstream sports and its athletes like baseball, football and hockey.
Sure, there is an argument that esports is nothing more than mashing buttons and staring at a screen. Those that observe an esports event won’t see the physical aspect of the sport like football, baseball, soccer or basketball fans see. However, according to a Syracuse University article, it is predicted that esports finals will have the second-highest United States viewership by 2021, right behind the NFL finals. The esports fan base is also rapidly growing with a predicted 495 million viewers by 2020, which is an increase of 225 million viewers since 2016.
As a former athlete myself, I respect any person that competes in their field of expertise. Whether that is hitting a baseball, smashing buttons or anything in between, esports is a sport, and probably more popular than your favorite sport, too.