Tell Us Dammit: Is eSports A Sport?

I wonder if we can discuss this topic without getting angry at one another? That is today's challenge. Is eSports an actual sport? I'd love to hear your opinions on that.

To begin with I'd like to posit a disclaimer of sorts: saying eSports isn't a sport isn't necessarily an attempt to discredit it.

I mean, calling chess a 'game' instead of a 'sport' doesn't demean the incredible effort that is required to play it on a high level, it merely reflects the belief of many that playing a sport requires some sort of physical activity.

I guess it all comes down to how you define the word 'sport'.

Me? I'm not sure. Part of me thinks that the sheer physical nature of eSports — the reaction times required — are enough for eSports to be a sport. Another part of me believes that some sort of physical exertion is required for something to be called a sport.

In other words, I'm sitting on the fence as per usual.


Comments

    It meets most of the required criteria, there's really not a huge difference between a proper raid team and a basketball team, but there is enough of a difference that it gets it's own category. It's not that eSport is less than 'real' sport it's just different. Like track and field versus team sports.

    I'm a huge fan of both esports and normal sports and I genuinely don't think it matters how they're defined.

    People seem to get caught up in the fact that people aren't getting all sweaty while playing LoL or CS. They've got a rigid definition of what sports are because playing video games doesn't fall into it, they dismiss the idea entirely.

    As far as I'm concerned, both are valid forms of competition that are entertaining and interesting for competitors and spectators. Arguing over semantics just seems to be missing the point, which is enjoying watching the best of the best compete for honour and glory.

      That's the thing. Everyone has their own definition of sport and what it means so of course there are going to be disagreements.

      Personally, I think that if you can call cricket a sport, esports is a sport.

        Cricket actually requires a LOT of physical endurance. It may not look like it on the field, but those guys cover more than 15km per day.

        I'd probably throw fishing into the equation though. Just chuck a line over the edge of a boat, have a nap, and call it a sport :P

          Haha yeah I'd completely forgotten that sports fishing was a thing. Along with Xtreme sports fishing and Xtreme motor sports.

          Maybe that's the solution. Call it Xtreme esports and all will be right. :P

          Similarly shooting and archery. They're mostly about fine motor control, just like getting headshots in CS (although CS is a game of territory control so there's a bit more to it).

          People argue about games being art as well. As if somehow defining games as art makes games better, more real. That the hobby is suddenly justified.

          I've got a loose definition of sports and art, under which gaming can fit. I've got a loose definition because the definition of those terms has exactly zero impact on my enjoyment or the validity of the hobby.

      To be fair, I'm pretty sure pro eSports players do get sweaty hehehe

      In all seriousness, it takes HUGE amounts of skills to pull off those insane things they do much like in sports where the ones with the most skills gets picked

        I can work up a sweat playing Spelunky. I'm a pretty sweaty dude :p

        Seriously though, I would be interested in knowing where people draw the line with sports. Where does having a kick to kick in the park turn into playing footy as a sport? Where does riding a bike turn into cycling? Is the addition of a three piece suit what turns a pub game into pool?

    Sport is sport. Esport is esport.

      For few words that sums it up well for me. Why spend so much time trying to wedge it into either 'games' or 'sports' and just have a new thing we call eSport with its own definition?

      That said, I would technically see eSport as 'games'. When you play competitive multiplayer at home you are a gamer, not a sports-person. Televising it in front of an audience for prizes or notoriety does not magically change it into a sport. So we could just define eSport as "broadcasted competitive video gaming". But there's no logical step which can turn gaming into a sport just by adding broadcasting into the mix.

      Although I can think of a flaw in my own argument... If I sit at home masturbating it's simply masturbating. If I broadcast it the definition changes from masturbation to porn.

    I love following esports, especially Starcraft 2. However, esports are not sports. That's why they are called esports.

    I make the comparison to mail vs email. They are similar, yes, but in the end two different things, denoted by the "e" prefix. Sports and esports fall into the same category. Similar, yes, but in the end, two different things.

    Both are valid forms of competition, as @trjn said above. Both require lots of practice and dedicated training to become top level. But in the end they are two different things.

    Esports are not sports. Esports are something that's different, but still equally as good as sports.

    I'm a bit old school and i will never recognize Esports as a real sport. I'm not too sure why, but i believe real sports involve physical activities which pushes the limits of the human body and tests their courage and skills. (No this is not sitting at a computer)
    Don't get me wrong, i love that Esports is making a massive global impact and is only getting bigger and bigger, but i see it as its own field, not mixed in with regular sports.

    Well, until you adopt a definition of sport there seems little point in attempting to see what does or does not fall in the category. That would itself be a long and excruciatingly tedious debate.

    For example - your requirement for physical activity. It seems clear that this cannot be a critical definition as then we would have to include many other things in the category "sport" which we would rather not.

    I would rather fall back on the historical attitude toward sport as relating to leisure and entertainment. i.e, a category of activities that are not associated with neccesary economic activity. Something we do for pleasure rather than simple utility.

    Again, this wouldn't be a critical definition. In the same way as physical activity, we wouldn't want to include all those activities which we do for pleasure in the category sport.

    So come up with a list of different aspects of various sports, see how many of those aspects that eSports shares. Decide whether eSports exhibits has enough of these aspects to be considered a sport.

    If you're basing the word 'sport' on physical activity then there's a few sports that don't require much physical activity at all. Lawn bowls, shooting, darts. Take a look at Phil 'The Power' Taylor and tell me that's a man at the peak of physical perfection, but he's still labelled a sportsman.

    People turn games into sports so I'd go along with calling eSports a sport. There'll be many many people out there though who would look down on games as society's evil and that no good can come from staring at a screen for hours no end.

    Not to me.

    It's a competitive activity but not a competitive physical activity.

    esport is not a sport. If it was, does going on Wheel of Fortune count as a sport?

      Hmm. You raise an interesting idea. A gameshow is a show and not a sport, but the same could be said about TV shows like Wipeout, Gladiators or Takeshi's Castle which all contain the physical aspects that eSports are apparently missing.

    Oh god, you're really opening a can of worms on this one. I guess everybody should be prepared for massive down/up voting bombing.

    I don't really find esports to be sports, where it's about physical activity and people pushing their body beyond their limits. Can't really do that in a videogame where everything is static (and don't mention the word 'random' to those players). Especially in its current form where youth is an important factor. With the way esports is currently designed around twitch reflexes and then stating that once you hit 20 you might as well retire due to "old" age. Kind of discourages people getting into it when they can't even get good rental credit by then.
    There's also the toxic behaviour gaming in general has (as recently proven over the last month) where treating people like dirt is encouraged and an expected part of playing the game.

    But then again I find most sports in general to be stupid. A lot of fans take it too seriously and a lot of people who own the teams just use it to throw money around. Really, sports in general is just how rich people play Magic: The Gathering (citation needed).

    Sometimes it can come off as validation too (like claiming videogames are automatically art). Some people were teased by their peers in their youth for playing games and their parents were asking them to do their homework instead of playing games. So by turning it into a sport they can now pretend that it's very important and go back to failing English.

    Really, does it have to be a sport? Can't it be something else, be it's own thing?

    Last edited 04/09/14 11:45 am

      But then again I find most sports in general to be stupid. A lot of fans take it too seriously and a lot of people who own the teams just use it to throw money around. Really, sports in general is just how rich people play Magic: The Gathering (citation needed).
      Sounds like the Chinese Dota scene to me.

      But are sports about: Pushing your body to the limit?

      Golf?
      Lawn Bowls?
      Curling?
      et cetera

        All still take more effort than moving your thumbs or tapping your fingers....

          Yes, but not really about finding your physical limits.

          As a former competitive cyclist, I have no problame with eSports being considered a sport.

      I am going to reply to you Neo Kaiser, cause I appreciate and love you (:Kappa:) .

      The perception of seeing e-sports as real sports is something that we, as "gamers" , have to consider it in a more sceptical way. Chess and Bridge(wtf?) has the privilege of being an olympic sport, recognized by the International Olympic Committee (with anti-doping control). In ancient Greece poets and orators where competing in Olympics for the favour of the Gods and patrons. Poker tournaments are consider as sports by millions of people around the globe. Then why not e-sports?

      Gaming is something we love, why not going up one more step ahead? What you write here in the comments, your opinion being spoken to friends and family, everything you speak and write can shape the cultural phenomenon of EVO, CS, etc.

      We still have a loooooooong way to go though, video game competitive scene is something extremely new, compared to poetry [ancient era], poker [19th century] and chess[around 15th century]. But hey, people didn't have phones, PCs and internet as we did now, maybe we are going to see something in our time in this planet - and probably that particular video game(-s) is/are going to be different than the one/-s we have now.

      One last thing: competitive scene is growing, and as the years pass by, more and more people will want these kind of events. Big money-extremely large viewing audience will not leave IOC (Olympic committee ) without interest. All we have to do as community is to support this thing to happen! (I am so romantic dammit)

      Last edited 04/09/14 4:48 pm

        Oh, don't make the assumption that I would say chess or something can be considered sports. I'm sure many people, even those that participate, wouldn't consider them sports. Which is why I suggested a new term. Otherwise the government should be paying me for a ticket to Gen Con for Warmachine.

        It's funny you say how comments can shape the "culture" since at the moment it has a real problem with toxic players destroying the idea.

        Of course competitive play will keep growing and evolving. Hopefully it evolves in the right direction. The fighting game scene, while it has failed at times, seems to be pushing it towards better competitive play, and Riot seems to be aware how they need to monitor how players behave for it to be taken seriously. Taking steps to prevent toxic attitude and preventing negative players from influencing the scene (at the same time I also see MLG making no attempts to do anything but please themselves). So there are plenty of people taking it in the right direction, but they have a long way to go and need to keep at it.

        Is there's a way to sum up my feelings it would be that I consider competitive players to simultaneously be taking it too seriously, while not taking it serious enough, if that somehow makes sense to you.

    But...something like chess is a recognised sport of the Olympic Committee. Why not competitive gaming? Doing a quick Google search, it is. SO...yes, it is a sport I think.

    Have you seen the sweat that comes off the brows of those gamerz!!

    Last edited 04/09/14 11:47 am

    Oxford Dictionary:
    sport/spɔːt/
    noun
    1.an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

    I guess it's not a sport but maybe that would mean other things like motor car racing may not be a sport either then?

    Yes and No.... No, its not a Physical Activity requiring physical prowess and not in the same field of any thing else we call a sport.

    Yes, A spectator event that you support a team or watch the action of players in a rule based competition, yes, you could call it a sport as its closest associated word in the dictionary.
    Closest classic example would be Chess, and only chess, as an intellectual activity and competition... but Chess never called itself a sport. Yet again we do live in an era where we can invent new words on the internet by putting a single lower case letter in front of a capital word (three cheers for murdering english).

    I hate spectator sports (football etc), I dont understand the fasination of supporting a team you do not have a vested interest in (your playing, your friends/family playing, overwhelming national pride)... When people talk about their weekend and mention how their team went, I know they are talking about a spectator sport and I just ask them stuff "Oh, I didnt know you played" "Did you score ? get any assists ?" "I hope you didnt hurt yourself" "Oh so your children play"

    I really cant get behind eSports, I mean its good to see someone play a game your playing to get a better idea to play, but after that... why would I support a team, when there is no association between myself and the players. (national pride etc) they are just random people strung together into a team. I find it funny that some Universities in the States, are forming teams, that I maybe could get behind if I was at that university... but I cant see it.

    Hmm. My instinct is to say that sport is any competitive game that is about physical ability. So chess doesn't count because it doesn't really matter whether you can even pick up the pieces or not, you just take your turn in figuring out what move to make. So similarly, a Pokemon match can be an e-sport, but isn't really a sport. Whereas a StarCraft match, that's all about the precision and swiftness of your clicks (ie physicality) on top of the strategy element, so that is definitely a sport.

    But then the question of Wheel Of Fortune... I'd go and say it wasn't a sport because it's all about knowledge. But you could counter that the wheel-spinning is physicality and all skill, even if most leave it to luck. Tough.

    Heh, what about pinball. That's definitely about physicality. Must be a sport?

    Is it a sport? Probably.

    I mean, to me? Not at all, not one bit.

    But that's my personal opinion, and it doesn't really matter because it's not going to *change* anything and it doesn't take away from what these guys achieve?

    But then I think, like others have said, of Chess, Lawn Bowls, Darts etc, which are considered sports too and require around the same level of participation. That's when it all gets murky.

    Is it a sport? Probably.

    Is it a physical sport? Not to me, no.

    But is it a sport, sure. Why not. Because to me, the two are distinctly different anyhow.

    It's as much of a sport as chess, darts, snooker/pool... *shrug*

    I found a picture of Mark http://videogamewriters.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/futurama-neutral-maybe1.jpg

    On topic, there IS in fact physical activity in this 'sport', as there is for shooting for example and the level of physical activity is irrelevant anyway. Unitl games are controlled by your mind (Back to the Future 2 lead me to believe it was next year?) we have to keep calling this a sport, where there is a competitive element and skill.

    No, not now not ever (except maybe with VR).

    esport is art. Is writing about video games journalism?

    If *insert sport you don't like* is a sport than surely esport is one as well.

    Someone has to be the best at that thing.

    E-sport is not sport, it's E-sport. It's the category we use to define competitive lol dota cs cod etc in the same way we use the term sports to define basketball football baseball and so on.
    To me it is a sport but it is how we define it that rustles peoples jimmies. Our generation isnt the issue though, it is closed minded traditionalists that are the biggest hurdle. Until we get past that we need to differentiate E-sport from traditional sports to reduce butthurt.

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