By definition, a sport is an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. Good examples of this include football and basketball, which require strength, speed, agility, and stamina. In order to be a professional, you need to be in the top .000001% of people in terms of physical ability.
As an avid sports fan, former athlete, and lifelong gamer, I’m dumbfounded by how eSports was coined as the term for competitive gaming. Don’t get me wrong, it takes an immense amount of skill, great hand-eye coordination, fast reflexes, and daily practice to be a professional gamer. In order to go pro, you do need to be in the top .000001% in terms of talent. But no matter which way you slice it, professional gaming does not require physical exertion, and therefore should not be called eSports.
I don’t care that you can log into Draft Kings and put together a fantasy League of Legends team, or watch Evolution Championship Series on ESPN. I don’t care that Las Vegas takes bets on professional gaming matches. I don’t care that most games in the professional circuit require skill and teamwork. When you go back to the definition of a sport, physical exertion must be involved, and there is none of that in gaming.
It’s the same reason why I don’t consider golf and NASCAR sports, and those even take some sort of physical ability. With NASCAR, you need to train your body to be able to withstand extreme heat for three-hour races. And with golf, you need to have strong legs and a strong core to be able to powerfully drive the ball. Gaming, on the other hand, is done in comfort with little movement. Sure, you need to be able to sit and focus on a screen for extended periods of time, but that takes more mental exertion than physical.
That’s not to say that some professional gamers aren’t in peak physical condition. Hell, even Gordon Hayward, one of the best small forwards in the NBA, has dabbled with professional gaming. Also, look at Mike “FlamesworD” Chaves; he’s in as good of shape as some professional athletes. However, he doesn’t need to be in order to do what he does. It’s not like he needs to be able to run a 4.5 40, have a 45-inch vertical, or bench press 500 pounds to be elite at Halo. If anything, he needs to be more mentally sharp.
Just to be clear, although I’m harping on the name eSports, I’m in no way trying to discredit professional gaming as a craft. Being a professional gamer requires exponential hours of training, and with some games, strong teamwork and communication skills. Some pros spend 12-16 hours per day perfecting their skillset, and then spend their days off playing even more. Considering those numbers, you could argue that professional gamers are more dedicated than professional athletes. But at the end of the day, dedication to your profession doesn’t make you an athlete; competition, skill, and most importantly, physical exertion must be involved.
Of course it would be bogus for me to complain about the name eSports without offering up any suggestions for alternatives. To be honest, I’m ok with just referring to it as professional or competitive gaming. Although neither quite roll off the tongue like eSports, they’re more accurate to what the activity is: People competing against one another in video games at a professional level. No physical exertion involved or required. So the end of the day, professional gaming isn’t a sport, and professional gamers aren’t professional athletes.
How do you feel about professional gaming being called eSports? Are you for it? Against it? Do you not really care? Am I making too big of a deal out of something trivial? Share your thoughts in the comments below!