Are eSports Actual Sports?

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Are eSports Actual Sports?

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Zachary Johnson, Writer

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The two most popular activities among the American youth are sports and video games. There exists a medium between the two: eSports. eSports are the competitive play of a video game and are becoming increasingly popular. Games such as Counterstrike Global Offensive, League of Legends, and DOTA 2 are among the most popular in eSports. Here, teams go through competitive gameplay between one another, similar to modern competition brackets. Teams are eliminated by losing to one another and advance by defeating one another.

Teams even have huge followings from their fans as large as those from professional sports such as football or basketball. However, eSports do not get the recognition that they deserve. In 2014, the Katowice ESO One tournament took in about 9 million unique viewer accounts, and about 36 million individual viewing sessions. In 2014, the NBA Final Four championship drew about 16 million viewers. However, in the same year, 27 million unique viewers watched the League of Legends 2014 World Championship. In addition, these tournaments are not aired on television. Instead, they use websites that stream each match, similar to how televised sports are cast. Although, to watch these events, you have to know which websites they are being streamed to. With televised sports, you may not have to know what channel it is on, since you can flip channels and find them by accident. To view an eSports event, you have to know which websites the events are being streamed to, so no one can easily accidentally stumble upon the event.

According to the Korean Olympic Commission, eSports are a second-level Olympic sport, which contains other sports such as Chess, Cheerleading, Car Racing, and Polo. Some gamers call for a separate e-olympics, since there are multiple different categories and genres. It would be equivalent to putting football, basketball, golf, bowling, and lacrosse all under one collective sports umbrella. One commenter stated, “They must be unhappy with their image as it is. But what would you even count as e-sport? Is it league? …And consider that the Olympics are only every 4 years. Some games don’t even have a lifespan that long!” and it’s hard to disagree with him. In addition, how would sequels work? If a game released a sequel, would you continue to compete in the prior game, or would you completely change the event?

Some companies are realizing the potential in showing eSports on TV, like ESPN, who recently covered the pre-game show for the DOTA 2 Internationals in 2014. Prize money is also a lot larger than what you think. In the DOTA 2 Internationals, the winning team won $5 million dollars. In 2014, the NBA championship started with a prize pool of about $14 million. However, the winning team was only paid about $4 million. Considering that there are only 6-7 players on a modern eSports team, and 13 players are dressed for play in the NBA. Even if prize money was distributed evenly, and the team got none, the 13 players would receive about $300,000. If all of the money went to each eSports player, each competitor would bring in a cool $715,000 , roughly. In addition, players receive salary for playing on teams. Players’ salaries can range from $25,000 a year as a starting pro player to upwards of $200,00 per year for top players, which is really good pay for doing what you love day in and day out.

As a player of eSports, I do believe they are a sport; however, they are a new breed of competitive play. I would appreciate the understanding that video games are not just mindless clicking, and their players are more than antisocial nerds who don’t have friends.

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