Rugby. Cricket. Esports. Why esports are sports

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By Hope Corrigan, Hope Corrigan is a Roar Expert

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    There seems to be a lot of discussion around the moniker of sports and whether or not esports fit under the same umbrella.

    I previously wrote about esports being as social as traditional sports, which most seemed to agree with but the idea that they were actually a sport came under contention.

    It’s something I struggled to understand for the longest time as my traditional understanding of a sport tends to constitute a lot more physical movement. I think this is the barrier for most people, the idea that there’s not enough motion when compared to things like track or football.

    That the people involved can be not in what appears to be the finest physical form and then when performing they mostly sit still. It goes against what most conjure when they think of a sport and maybe that’s part of the problem.

    Esports is not the first to fly in the face of such a definition. Chess is recognised by the International Olympic Committee to be a sport and while impressive mentally, requires less physical prowess than an esport. Equestrian events like dressage are also readily accepted sports as well as things like curling or even shooting.

    The argument that esports aren’t physical enough may be the reason so many think they don’t qualify but surely the definition has already been pushed to be broader than this? Even without these comparisons, the hand-eye coordination and quick reflexes required to perform at the top tier of these games hold the prowess to gain entry into the hallowed sports halls.

    With all this said, what makes esports sports is so much more important than whatever goes against the personal definitions of individuals. Things are, after all, brought together by similarities and if there were no differences there would be no variety.

    Esports are at their hearts competitions of skill.

    Among professional players, we see the highest level of ability pit against one another for a title or prize. Adrenaline runs high when matches are close and good sportsmanship prevails when they’re not.

    For some there’s teamwork and we can see each member play a role which is thought out and practiced. Hours of work behind the scenes training with players and coaches forges the best of the best. Common themes and plays recur and gain names and great moments and players become staples in homes from all over the world that tune in to watch them.

    Stadiums are built to showcase these feats and bring people together to enjoy the waves of atmosphere and emotion. There are casters, experts, and analysts who develop careers talking about the different game on worldwide broadcasts for fans at every corner of the globe.

    Millions of dollars pour into the industry as victories and defeats are felt by players and supporters. Countries and towns swell with pride and mourn defeats wearing the colours of their appointed champions.

    (Image: Gfinity Australia)

    Players are bought and signed and traded between teams. Sponsorship deals are fought and won with awkward product placements and athletes give white-teeth smiles while professing the quality of sometimes irrelevant products. Hopefully, in the future we’ll even see a perfect movie where an ex-top player is pulled into a match to save a cartoon world from an evil alien corporation.

    Tools used by the best are coveted among fans and advancements in equipment can lead to changes in the games themselves. The games change and evolve as new rules are put in place to help maintain balanced play. Illegal items or actions are punished and looked down upon and those who do so are often shamed from the industry itself.

    Performance enhancing drugs are used, scandals appear, and dodgy deals to throw games occur. Players face injuries and have limited career lifetimes as their peak descends and makes way for new blood.

    I don’t see how what I could be describing would be seen as anything other than a sport. Somehow when I add the caveat that these games take place on a computer everything else is thrown out the window. Some say if that much equipment is required to play then it can’t be a sport as though courts, hoops, and even balls have never existed.

    I can understand that the immediate association of sport may not come to mind but when examined closely it really is the best description for esports. Saying they aren’t a sport at this point feels more like exclusion and gatekeeping than a useful debate about definitions.

    The similarities just outplay any perceived differences and sports are already so varied that the definition has already stretched to encompass things far more outrageous than video games.

    Hope Corrigan
    Hope Corrigan

    Hope has been writing about video games since 2012 and has no plans of stopping now. Generally, a healer main who just wants everyone to have fun.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • March 8th 2018 @ 8:32am
      morebeer said | March 8th 2018 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      Wittgenstein explored the interesting question of what defines a game last century.

      For mine, Esports, chess etc are all sports. You need to employ a bit of Cartesian Dualism to think otherwise in my opinion.

      • March 8th 2018 @ 4:18pm
        Jubal1 said | March 8th 2018 @ 4:18pm | ! Report

        There are two simple tests to determine if an activity is a sport.

        1 – Do you have to put out your cigarette to participate at your best or can you continue to smoke throughout?
        2 – Do you get points for what you are wearing or how you look?

        If the answer to either or both questions is yes, it’s not a sport, its a game or an artistic endeavour.

    • March 8th 2018 @ 9:29am
      Perry Bridge said | March 8th 2018 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      To me – there are ‘table games’ and there are sports (which play games).

      To me – table tennis is the oddity of course! However – one is not seated – nor is ones opponent.

      I regard chess, backgammon, cards, hungry hippos, clue(do), Monopoly, Call of Duty on Xbox – – they’re ‘table games’ to me. My kids playing on the xbox is definitely not sport or sporty.

      Nor – in my opinion is darts in the pub with beer in hand.

      Static shooting is a challenge – perhaps more seen as a single discipline of the broader sport – seen in broader context in the pentathlon.

      Perhaps – the notion of sports should be to have to go to a change room and get your required gear on. Not purely optional (i.e. a team polo for e-sports).

      What next? Aust v Eng e-sports Ashes series?

      • March 8th 2018 @ 10:48am
        morebeer said | March 8th 2018 @ 10:48am | ! Report

        It is actually a complicated philosophical issue and I highly recommend even a token exposure to some of the ideas involved. Wittgenstein’s “Philosophical Investigations” talks about the “language-game” from which many of the difficulties of categorization arise.

        As an exercise, try creating a ven diagram of the logical relations between volleyball, Olympic diving, and soccer.

    • March 8th 2018 @ 9:52am
      One Shot said | March 8th 2018 @ 9:52am | ! Report

      “What next? Aust v Eng e-sports Ashes series?”

      Why not Perry, as they already run an E sport comp in parallel with the F1 racing season.

    • March 8th 2018 @ 10:35am
      Jack Russell said | March 8th 2018 @ 10:35am | ! Report

      Thats like saying painting is a sport because the Archibald prize is a competition and it requires great skill.

      Almost anything worth doing is difficult. That doesn’t make it a sport.

    • March 11th 2018 @ 4:08pm
      Aaron Callaghan said | March 11th 2018 @ 4:08pm | ! Report

      At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter, invest in esports is on the rise, viewing numbers are rising and traditional sports should be worried.

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