Should eSports Be Considered Sports?

By Nia C.

An eSport is a video game competition between two or more people. The E in eSport stands for electronic as these sports are usually played on an Xbox, Wii U, or PlayStation. These competitions are held worldwide and are free to view online at any time. They have been around since the 1980’s and have become increasingly popular over time. Many eSporters play Super Smash Bros, League of Legends, and Hearthstone. The most popular game, League of Legends, has over 100 million active players worldwide. Kuro Takhasomi aka KuroKy has earned over $2.8 million in prize money from tournaments. On average, most eSport winners earn over $1k in prize money, although it varies through games and tournaments.

In order to answer the question of whether eSports should be considered as a sport, we must first define what a sport is. According to Merriam Webster a sport is a competitive athletic game or activity. Now that we’ve analyzed what an eSport is we can now figure out if they fit into the category of sports.

eSports and chess are similar in how they fit into the category of sports. Although during chess there is minimal physical activity it is still a sport. The same goes for eSports. The International Olympic Committee and over 100 countries consider chess a sport. Even companies such as ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and even Forbes consider eSports as sports and cover them.

It’s time to look on the other side of things, why aren’t eSports a sport? Sports are an athletic activity but eSports are not. The definition of athletic is vigorous or active and eSports are the opposite of active. In basketball, a player gets to run around a court and shoot baskets while also blocking and passing. During eSports, a player sits on a chair and only moves their thumbs two inches. Although players must learn how to make around 300 movements per minute it is still only in one minuscule section of the body. Even in a sport such as swimming, there is exercise in the deltoids, hamstrings, and core. Thus, eSports are not sports because they do not fit the definition of athletic. But if one considers them as a sport that begs the question of if the “athletes” should be paid.

Many eSporters spend more hours training than athletes. On average, a college athlete spends 38 hours per week training or 5 hours per day. While most professional eSporters spend, on average, at least 50 hours per week practicing or 12-14 hours per day. eSporters can be considered even harder working than regular athletes or at the very least on the same level.

Compared to regular sports, far fewer people get hurt per year. 3.5 million people under 14 have a sport-related injury per year in the US alone. These injuries include ankle sprains, groin pull, knee injuries, and concussions. All of these injuries are extremely rare during eSports. In fact, the most frequent eSports injuries are just sores and pains in the wrist, elbow, shoulder, and thumb. These sores and pains are not nearly as serious as concussions and knee injuries which can permanently damage a human body. There are even some health benefits to eSports. Video games can relieve pain because of the endorphins released when they are played. Those endorphins boost your mood and numb discomfort. eSports are far safer and pose less of a risk than other, more active sports. Although there is less physical movement that doesn’t mean you’re immune to other conditions.

eSports have more long-lasting injuries than regular sports. The effect of blue light on eyes is detrimental to our health. Blue light causes digital eye strain and retina damage. When you have digital eye strain there have been reports of having trouble focusing and sore irritated eyes. There is also a greater risk of depression, certain types of cancer, obesity, and heart disease. Rich Stanton, the author of “The secret to eSports athletes’ success? Lots — and lots — of practice,” says that “Physical ailments like deep vein thrombosis, carpal tunnel or back strains can be common, a result of a mostly sedentary lifestyle and the demanding schedule.” eSports pose even worse health risks than regular sports if gamers aren’t cautious and take a break every 20 minutes or so. However, it is also much more accessible for the physically disabled or mentally ill. There is no right or wrong answer to these questions.

According to the Video Game Cartel, “People that have given up on their dream will never understand yours”. Whether you consider eSports as a sport or not what is important are the details. Esports should be more widely accepted by others as a Sport. It fits the definition of what a sport is and has many different health benefits and advantages.

Student Bio

Nia C.

2018 Summer Program
2022 Virtual Winter Workshop

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