Are E-Sports Real Sports?

As e-sports become more popular, the conversation surrounding its status as a sport becomes more well known. E-sports fans and people alike have heated opinions by using the dictionary definition of sport or not.

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Photo Taken From Games Radar

Competitive e-sports players playing Leauge of Legends. Leauge of Legends is one of the most popular e-sports to play in the world.

The video gaming industry is growing constantly in revenue making an estimated $180.3 billion in 2021. As competitive video games came into being, they became known as “e-sports” and people began considering them as sports.

Some of these said video games, which due to their competitive nature, have caused them to be known as e-sports. These include games like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and Valorent. Even so, deciding whether or not these games are sports has proven to be difficult for the general public. 

Freshman, Ilan Lopez is an e-sports player and fan who supports e-sports being considered a sport.

“I think a sport is anything that challenges your mental and/or your physical traits within an athlete,” Lopez said. “E-sports, without a doubt, challenge your mental abilities.”

Dot Esports reporter Hunter Cooke described what physical exertion is needed to label something as a sport.

A gaming studio at the University of North Dakota. In the background, there are popular games including Fortnite, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and Rocket Leauge. (Photo Taken From Devils Lake Journal)

“There are those who would say the level of physical exertion is too far removed from competitions that are normally labeled as ‘sports,’’ Cooke said. “In the same way we don’t view bowling or darts on the same level as tennis, we don’t view e-sports the same way we view other, more physically stringent sports.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) classifies chess as a sport, despite not being in the Olympics. Which has led some e-sports fans to hope that e-sports will soon receive Olympic recognition.

However, the IOC doesn’t make the final decision on whether something should be considered as a sport. 

Track and field coach, Danny Kung shared his thoughts on the e-sports debate.

“I do not believe there is enough movement to constitute it,” Kung said. “Yes it has a set of rules, yes it competes against others, but these are parameters of a general game. If you constituted this as a sport, then you would have to consider other games such as chess, Connect Four, etcetera, as a sport.”

Now if sports needs to include movement, then could physical games such as Wii Sports or the upcoming Nintendo Switch Sports be e-sports?

“I don’t consider Wii Sport to be sports,” Lopez said. “There isn’t too much of a skill cap to Wii Sports.”

As e-sports become more popular, the conversation surrounding its status as a sport becomes more well known. E-sports fans and people alike have heated opinions by using the dictionary definition of sport or not.

“Based on this definition, each person’s point of view can vary,” Kung said. “While some activities can be ‘games’ they don’t technically fall into this standard definition because they lack one thing or another.”

An e-sports arena packed with spectators. There were about 557 million viewers of e-sports in 2021 and there may be more in the future.

“I personally think e-sports are sports depending upon the game,” said Lopez. “Since some games actually challenge your ability to make fast [paced] decisions and use your practices muscle memory skills to eliminate the competition.”

If you go by the definition of sports requiring physical activity to be considered that way, then no, e-sports are not a sport. On the other end, if you believe sports are more about competition, testing intelligence, and smart plays, then e-sports are sports. 

The truth is, whether e-sports are sports is your decision, but whatever the answer may be, e-sports will continue to entertain millions across the globe.

“There will always be people who don’t view e-sports as a sport, and they may not be wrong,” Cooke said. “And if they aren’t, frankly, who cares?”