If you don’t think that E-sports are legitimate, think again. After all, as it gains ground — and screens — all around the world, the realm of E-sports is becoming increasingly recognized. Not only has the number of gamers risen exponentially over the past couple of years, many large stakeholders have put the money where the mouth is too. And with this rise comes an increasing demand for equipment like https://www.razer.com/gaming-mice as well as facilities.
For instance, in 2018, the state of Texas committed 10 million dollars to the construction of an E-sports stadium located in Arlington. The initial investment paid off and it’s now home to global competitions like Counter-Strike and FACEIT’s Esports Championship Series — attracting millions of viewers.
At home, adults and teenagers alike are choosing to watch gaming streams over the traditionally dominant cable TV for entertainment. These gaming streams, especially for the finals of big tournaments, are fast-paced and exciting, drawing eyeballs globally. As a yardstick, the 2018 League of Legends Finals was particularly successful, drawing almost 100 million viewers.
With such a big draw that will only continue to increase in terms of size and media coverage, it begs the question — will gaming ever make it to the Olympics? Could we one day crown an Olympic E-sports champion? If that question has been on your mind, you’re definitely not alone.
In fact, the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, has broached this very question a couple of times. Discussions have been happening between different members in the IOC, as well as with the public and the media.
Sad to say, the current consensus from all these discussions is that E-sports is not ready to be introduced into the Olympic world. This is because the IOC feels that gaming in general is not compatible with the values of the Olympics, especially since most games focus on violence more than anything.
However, there are also plenty of reasons for including E-sports in the Olympics. Here are just a few.
1. E-sports is a fast-growing sport
As previously mentioned, E-sports are gaining traction. On the player front, the numbers match up. Statistics show that there are a whopping 2.5 billion gamers globally, far exceeding the number of players of “popular sports” like basketball and tennis.
On the spectator front, the numbers are growing tremendously, too. In fact, the official number of viewers for 2018’s League of Legends E-sport Finals stands at 99.6 million. For comparison’s sake, the 2017 NFL, widely regarded as one of the greatest spectator sports in America, reached 95.2 million viewers.
This upward trend will only continue, with optimistic projections of the E-sports fan base for the next few years. After all, as access to watching live stream increases, more and more people are starting to look at E-sports as the preferred form of entertainment. Kids would gladly watch video game streamers over the traditional cartoons on the telly, and adults are choosing to watch E-sports on Twitch over cable TV programming. After all, with big prize pools and high stakes for the players, it’s undoubtedly a thrilling form of entertainment.
This increasing fan base and prospective viewers can only be good news for the Olympics, which faces a declining viewership. This is in spite of holding prime time TV spots and free streaming, meaning that there's a definite trend of erosion until something new, like E-sports, comes in to spike more interest.
2. E-sports are real sports
Contrary to what many might imagine, E-sports can actually be scientifically classified as a real sport. Make no mistake — this doesn’t refer to the ordinary late-night video game player. Instead, it refers to those who study and play E-sports at the elite level, training and practicing full-time.
For these players, studies have shown that they actually push the human body to accomplish many superhuman feats. This includes using many parts of the brain simultaneously and producing high, athlete-levels of cortisol. Physically, professional players also put their bodies to the test, as you would in any other sport like swimming or football. They make over 400 hand movements per minute and display unprecedented levels of hand-eye coordination. Their heart rates rise to about 180 beats per minute, which is similar to that of a sprinter during a fast run.
Even if one argues that E-sports doesn’t meet the usual definition of a real sport, it doesn’t mean that it should be excluded from the Olympics. After all, there are plenty of Olympic events that divert from what we traditionally think atheism should be. Take for instance sports like Shooting and Golf, where the athletes can technically still do well without physical exertion.
Needless to say, though E-sports might seem less demanding than real sports, there’s actually plenty of evidence to suggest that the exertion of elite players matches up, even exceeds, those of sports we see in the Olympics today.
3. E-sports can be an Olympic Demonstration sport
Apart from the official Olympic sports, there’s actually a lesser-known section of the Olympics known as demonstration sports. These are held concurrently with the Olympic games, just that athletes play without getting Olympic medals.
These demonstration sports, which once included the likes of Tennis and Bowling, are seen as a stepping stone for sports to eventually qualify as an Olympic sport. And it has a pretty good success rate, for example helping Badminton to achieve official sport status back in 1972.
While admittedly, it might take a while for E-sports to jump from demonstration sport to actual sport, it’s no doubt a great way to help it gain even more popularity and support. It’s a win-win situation — E-sports will help bring its fan bases over to watch the Olympics as a whole, and at the same time, giving it the title of an official Olympic demonstration sport can help raise the prestige of the gaming community as a whole.
In conclusion, it’s safe to say that E-sports has a lot of potential to become officially verified as an Olympic sport. With a humongous fan base, lots of entertainment quality and the required exertion to be classified as a sport, it’s only a matter of time before we see our first Olympic E-sport champion.