The question of whether or not Esports or competitive gaming should be considered an actual sport has been posed for a long time. The answer to that question is yes, it absolutely should be considered a sport.
Sports and Esports aren’t as different as many people may think they are. In fact, they share way more similarities than differences.
Schools are starting to take notice of the rise in popularity of Esports and are beginning to treat Esports the same as traditional sports through forming varsity Esports teams and programs. With the help of The National Association of Collegiate Esports, Esports are becoming more and more sports like.
The NACE has over 170 different schools from all over the country with varsity Esports teams that offer to coach as well as scholarship opportunities, similar to what sports programs offer. Even Cal State Fullerton has a Varsity club team that competes against other schools in games like League of Legends, Rocket League, and Overwatch.
In sports, most of the time is spent, practice, training, and going over plays whether it be football, basketball, or water polo. Sports players do this to physically and mentally prepare for games and better themselves at their sport. Competitive Esports share the same philosophy of rigorous training and practice if not more so than other sports.
Though there is probably not as much of an emphasis on physical training, some Esports players still spend a ridiculous amount of time practicing. This comes as no surprise as being a competitive gamer requires a great amount of focus for long periods of time, has quick reactions, and be able to make critical split-second decisions during matches, much like traditional sports.
According to an article from Business Insider that takes a look into the training routine of some professional league of legends players “Team Liquid players practice together for eight hours a day, scrimmaging against other pro and Challenger-level teams. In the hours before and after that team practice, they play on their own for nearly every waking minute”.
Not only is Esports similar to sports in training and practice but they also are competitive in nature. Both consist of a person or teams that compete against one another to complete an objective, like scoring the most points or being the quickest to complete something. Take soccer, for example, it has a team of players kicking a ball up and down the field trying to score a goal against the other team.
Esports has professional and college-level teams that play a game called Rocket League, which is essentially soccer but with rocker powered cars instead of soccer players. This is just one of many examples of Esports games that share the same competitive spirit as traditional sports.
Traditional sports and esports are also in the same business of sponsorships, advertisement, and promotion of brands.
Similar to how sports teams brand themselves through clothing lines, merchandise, and team logos, Esports members have the same interest and methods of branding. For example, the most popular and successful Esports team, Team Liquid, sells a variety of different merchandise including gaming chairs, jerseys, hats, and other clothing with their team logo.
The same idea applies to sponsorships, with basketball and football teams being sponsored by brands like Nike or Adidas, Esports teams have their own sponsors like Monster or Red Bull. Both sports and Esports have a dependency on branding to gain fans, recognition, and money
Esports popularity continues to grow and soon will become just as mainstream as traditional sports in the coming years. According to another Business Insider article, Esports viewerships are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9% from 2019 to 2023. This would be an increase from 454 million in 2019 to 646 million in 2023 which would put it on track to double in growth in a period of six years when viewership was at 335 million in 2017.
With Esports as popular as they are and continuing to grow, soon the lines between Esports and sports will be blurred and traditional sports and Esports will be considered one and the same as they should be.