Can Esports be considered a real Sport?
Imagine thousands of fans cheering for their teams as the match they are attending proceeds towards the climax. No, I am not talking about a football or a cricket match. I am talking about the DOTA 2 International Championship which is an Esport tournament or and equivalent of a World Cup. Esports or electronic sports is the term used for professional gamers. Esports is an up and coming segment of the gaming industry where professional esports players compete with each other to win large prize pools. The 2015 DOTA 2 (Defense Of The Ancients) International Championship had a prize pool of 18 million dollars which saw the winning team take home 6 million dollars. DOTA 2 is among the leading esports games, it is a MOBA (Massive Online Battle Arena) where two teams of 5 players use strategy and skill to reach and destroy the enemy teams base. Some of the other popular esport games are League of Legends, Counter Strike and Starcraft 2. Each of these games have players in the millions who not only play the game but also spend money on the game.
Even if enthusiasts cannot attend any of the esport tournaments the best solution is live streaming. Twitch which is the most popular streaming service online sees millions of people log on to watch esport matches. Twitch was bought by Amazon for 1 billion dollars. This shows that esports has a bright future ahead. Even though ESPN now televises popular esport tournaments the President of ESPN still doesn't consider esports as an actual sport. "(esports) is not a sport," he said,"it's a competition. Mostly I'm interested in doing real sports."
One of the main reasons why people are not ready to accept esports as a real sport is because of the fact that sports has been defined according to the Oxford Dictionary as: "an activity involiving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment." But an argument can be made that if a game like chess or poker which has players sitting and playing can be considered a sport then why not esports?
Esports requires as much if not more skill than any regular sport requires. Most professional players take years to reach the level of a profession gamer. You are required to be able to perform multiple combination skills and also be able to come up with game winning strategies. It is reported that a professional gamer can perform 100 unique actions in a minute. Most professional esports teams have trainers, sponsors, managers, coaches and are even required to maintain a healthy lifestyle since they spend more than 14 hours a day in front of a computer practicing.
According to me people need to be ready to accept the reality that playing video games can be considered as a sport. If it makes someone happy and provides them a way to sustain a living by playing video games as a profession then that person should be allowed to do so. The stereotype of a gamer is someone who is lonely and plays games for hours on end, who is overweight and screams at the screen while playing. The gaming community needs to re-define the definition of a gamer, only then will society begin to accept esports as an actual sport.