Is competitive gaming a legitimate sport?

HBO's "Real Sports" debates merits of eSports.

by

It's clear that competitive gaming is on the rise, but will eSports ever be seen by the mainstream sports community as a legitimate sport? That's exactly what HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel debated recently, with panelists largely dismissing cyber-athletes and their profession.

After acknowledging she had no idea that eSports even existed, sportscaster and former professional tennis player Mary Carillo said, "It's still not a sport. It's a game."

Panelists including Fox News correspondent Bernard Goldberg and Frank Deford cracked jokes about Star Trek conventions and labeled the millions of people who watch eSports events as "crazy."

Co-host Soledad O'Brien defended eSports, saying competitive gaming requires strategy and some level of physical exertion, albeit on a lesser level than traditional sports like soccer or basketball.

In an interview with GameSpot sister site OnGamers, O'Brien explained in greater detail why she believes competitive gaming should be considered a sport.

"Anything that has a high level dedicated structure, business model, prize money, and an elite competitive level is a sport," she said.

At the same time, however, she acknowledged that making a distinction between what is a sport and what is not a sport is not worth debating. "At the end of the day whether or not eSports is a sport isn't important," O'Brien said.

A clip of the Real Sports episode, which aired this week, is available below. The full episode is not available online yet. For more, check out OnGamers' interview with O'Brien.

Discussion

749 comments
isyn_gaming
isyn_gaming

I am really hoping that the eSports term falls off and eventually dies a sad death. 


Competitive gaming is just that. 


COMPETITIVE GAMING!


I read an article where a great opinion made a hell of a lot of sense against this argument.


When you compare Sports like football, baseball, basketball. 


The rules of these games rarely change, and when they do even your grandpa can get a grip on them and they are classified as such. Tennis...most know the rules and that falls into one category. 


Gaming on the other hand. You have like 10 different competitive leagues that play different genres of games. 


The game play in CTF in TF2 vs  CTF in CoD are completely different. Just because you played TDM in DOOM LAN play back in the day doesn't mean you will pickup all the ins and outs of some new game with the same concept. 


On top of that each genre is continually evolving, with no set of standards that stick for more than a decade. (Maybe CS 1.6) Those are long time veterans and their leagues stick with pretty much the same rules in their brackets). 


My only hope is that eSports gets real and people stop trying to glorify what I have accepted a long time ago as sitting on my ass and wasting shit tons of time. 


Yes there is a competitive world in gaming, some people are naturally gifted and should be idolized (people have a right to waste their time on whatever they want) 


They however, should not be offered the right to call gaming a sport. If only for this reason. 


If I one day have children. (Hoping the fuck not) I do not want to have little Jimmy saying, at 8 well dad sorry I would rather train to be an eSports athlete and one day be 300lbs and in my basement at 35 then just simply go play some hockey outside and be active. 


These fucking people who want to legitimize gaming as a sport are the same people who don't raise their children or who were raised not to be active. I am not talking about going out and drinking with your friends on the weekends prior to the drunken Ventrilo chats while playing payday 2 at 1am, I mean not spending 20 hours a week/day sitting in a chair starring at a brightly colored screen. 


But I guess social media is the cure of all physical contact. 



On a completely opposite note: Someone on page one stated something about a sport must require no luck whatsoever. 


I am pretty sure most FPS games use fudge factor type calculations between your client and the server to predict bullet travel, so while granted everyone have an equal opportunity to fail hard. Its still an element of luck so sir, I call bullshit on your theory.




Cheers,

-WOOLEY



orbit991
orbit991

I suppose going to the bathroom competitively could be a sport, but ya know, not really. Neither is playing a video game. For the most part you have to move your ass more then left cheek to right cheek in a chair to call something a sport.

GOGOHeadray
GOGOHeadray

But as for the topic a hand; competitive gaming is not a sport.

tightwad34
tightwad34

You see that arena full of people? I don't think I would be able to play at my highest level in front of a crowd like that. If I were used to it, then it may be another story.

SerOlmy
SerOlmy

"Anything that has a high level dedicated structure, business model, prize money, and an elite competitive level is a sport,"

No it's not, because if it was then the World Series Of Poker would be a sport. eSports is less mainstream than WSoP and just as painful to watch. In fact I think the comparison is very apt - both are extremely boring to watch, both have competitors that range from borderline personality disorder to full blown sociopath, and both are ridiculously over-monetized.

You could not pay me to watch eSports. It is niche and will remain niche for the simple reason that the competitors are just completely off-putting and unrelatable. I mean just look at the fighting game genre and you would find several major players that fit the textbook definition of douchebag and asshole. It would be like trying to pick who to root for when the choices are between Denis Rodman and Michael Vick. Whoever you pick, they are still terrible.

boyd62
boyd62

Sports at some level require some kind of extended physical exertion. Competitive gaming is just that, gaming. Its akin to playing chess, poker, or other games where some mental thought and skill is required.where the distinction is set is really to tough to say. However, i would not call curling or other activities like shooting , and to some extent golf/nascar sports either, although the last two require significantly more physical exertion then playing a computer game.


As far as people saying things are sports because they are in the Olympics lets be honest here, quite a few things in the Olympics were put there due to political or other pressure over the last 10-20 years. Things like curling, trap shooting, table tennis, among others are not really sports even though people are awarded medals. 


If competitive gaming had an element of actual physical exertion, then it could be considered somewhat of a sport, but it would be at best something like the biathlon at best, with the actual sport part of it being cross country skiing. So until all these guys get up and start running a marathon while gaming, sorry its just not a sport, contrary to what people want it to be.


As the millions of kids who sit in front of the computer or latest PS4 or Xbone, can attest, playing video games does not really require any kind of actual level of health or include fitness in about 90% of the cases. The fact that people tried to label it as an Esport is nothing more then marketing. 


Calling competitive gaming an esport, is like calling a stock broker or floor trader an athelete, because they move around or twitch there hands while working.

Hoogovens
Hoogovens

As "debated" on a show by a bunch of older people who probably don't play games outside of simple stuff like angry birds, bejeweled, and wii sports with their kids.


I myself have a hard time considering anything that doesn't require much physical exertion a sport.  I think of them as a competition, but not really a sport.

ethanm1834
ethanm1834

I've debated this for awhile. Is it a sport, it all depends on where your definition of sport is. I think the problem with this, is there are different genre and aspects to all games. There aren't concrete rules or structure that never change. As games change all the time. However if I were hard pressed I'd say sure they can be considered a sport.

csward
csward

If curling is a sport, anything can be. Most of those panelists were too old to be a part of the conversation, bad casting by HBO imo.


Secondly, the better question is will E-sports every be as mainstream as, say, American Football? To that I would say it depends on the game. Right now games like DotA, LoL, CoD, ect. have snowballing features that real sports don't have. 


Snowballing must be removed for E-Sports growth beyond a niche sport.

brain-pudding
brain-pudding

An interesting argument!

Well I’d argue that eSports are indeed sports.


For those thinking “TL;DR” here’s an abstract (sources provided at end):

eSports are indeed sports on the bases that

1) comparison to other sports such as Chess and Olympic trap- both of which are considered sports by the IOC- show a reasonable number of similarities, and

 2)  eSports actually abide by the definition of a “sport” (definition provided by Oxford dictionary and SportAccord Council)


Let’s start.


First let’s talk about chess and Olympic trap. Both are recognized by the IOC (The International Olympic Committee) as sports. Chess is a sport as a result of the IOC recognizing the World Chess Federation (FIDE). As a member of the IOC, the FIDE has to abide by its rules, including the requirement of drug/doping tests. On the other hand, the Olympic trap is by itself an Olympic sport, as part of the Shooting events.


Now let’s break these sports down to the factors that make them sports:


1-Both need a great deal of mental skills and abilities. You’d need to learn numerous strategies and have a great deal of experience to compete in chess championships. Having an amazing brain that recognizes patterns helps too. This applies to trap too, since you need a great deal of concentration and precision to hit your targets. And for both you’d need to be able to focus and stay calm in order to win.


2-Both, to some extent, need physical endurance and ability. For chess you’d need to be able to sit, for an extended amount of time, while keeping your cool.  For trap you need the physical ability to hold your gun straight; keeping your eyes on the target; not wavering or flinching.


Other factors include the competitive nature and the existence of championships/prizes. If you look at each point you’d see that eSport does indeed share them. There’s no denying the need in eSport for mental skills, experience, and strategy in order to achieve winning.  There is also a need for physical endurance since a player has to sit for a number of hours while staying focus. There’s also great strain on the hands since the player must assign a number of commands in a quick manner (Professional e-athletes in South Korea usually have average Action per Minute scores around 300!). I guess there’s no need to talk about the competitive nature and championships.


Moving on, eSports actually abide by the definition of a sport. Here’s the definition provided by SportAccord Council, and I’ll check the points one by one:

For all new membership applications, SportAccord uses the following definition of a sport:

-The sport proposed should include an element of competition. ? Check!

-The sport should not rely on any element of “luck” specifically integrated into the sport. ? Check!

-The sport should not be judged to pose an undue risk to the health and safety of its athletes or participants. ? Check!

-The sport proposed should in no way be harmful to any living creature. ?  Double-check!

-The sport should not rely on equipment that is provided by a single supplier. ? Check!


And so I conclude my argument. I definitely agree that eSports are definitely sports, and I hope that one day it would be considered officially as such. Let me hear what you think; Counter arguments are always welcomed!

I hope you all enjoyed this!

Dieknochenblume
Dieknochenblume

I just realized that although games seem like a legit sport to me (avid Korean starcraft league fan), after I tried calling it a sport in my native language, it sure sounded weird. My initial reaction was like "hell, no! It doesn't fit the idea of sports I have in my mind!" so I guess it's a matter of semantics.

E-sports are that, e-sports. New term, unique and different from all else. No sense debating over it. Should e-sport gamers have the same legal status and rights (visas) as sport athletes? Sure! No harm done. Are they the same? Who cares? Let it be. They're both awesome.

Aelfredus
Aelfredus

Uhh... it's not a sport... it's an e-sport. That's the reason the term was coined for.

troller83
troller83

Does masturbating 3-4x a day count as sport???


If yes, I'm a cyber athlete as well....


and I've got the muscle to prove it BITCHES!!!! <-----

da_nibbler
da_nibbler

so called eSports are not sports imo just like the game of chess is not a sport. unfortunately Chess is officially considered a sport so eSports should as well. the definition seems to be as long as something is competitive in any way, shape or form it is a sport.....

limbo12
limbo12

Why all this pining to get recognition as a professional sport? That culture is bankrupt, why poison the gaming community with all it entails?

CUDGEdave
CUDGEdave

For all the world I love games but I would rather have my physical job than sit on my arse playing games as a "sport".

kargion
kargion

By definition it is a sport.  This is no longer a valid question.

raiden3788
raiden3788

@SerOlmy I agree. Especially on the part where you generalize your own opinion and pretend it's the opinion of everyone else's.  What else do we not like? Tell us please.

GOGOHeadray
GOGOHeadray

@SerOlmyWait rodman doesn't fit your narritaive. He was one of the greatest PF's of all time in terms of defense and rebounding and one of the smartest on the court as well.

179107199999
179107199999

@boyd62 agreed but seeing great players play table tennis makes it a sport to me.The best go beyond what normal players do.The speed of movement and agility trying to keep up with the trajectory of the opposing players shot is athletic. 

TigusVidiks
TigusVidiks

@boyd62table tennis and curling are sports. You may argue that they don't have enough implementation to justify being in the Olympics, but that's a different matter.

chaosbrigade
chaosbrigade

@csward Curling still requires infinitely more physical prowess than sitting on a chair mouse clicking and typing in the keyboard.


I'm 20 something, been playing games all my life and I would never consider playing video game in any level as a sport. Nor would anyone with any common sense. 

179107199999
179107199999

@brain-pudding You wish to play with words do you.Okay then.They aren't athletes.

1.Athlete:A person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility,stamina or strength.

2.Athletics: exercises,sports,or contests in which athletes participate.

3A.Sport:an often competitve athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess3B,diversion recreation. 

Gaming fits definiton 3B. In the fact its recreation. Games are challenging but they don't have the athletic spirit.When you watch a Pro Gamer you see great reactions and playing ability however unlike real athletes they don't get that type of fatigue that only comes from doing something strenous with your body.You're just pressing buttons.Now if there was a Fighting game that was motion controlled to perfection and it could actually read real punches and kicks that then would be an E-Sport.Try practicing a real Round kick or even a round house or try punching and moving with the technique of a boxer.Any game that can be programmed to mimic that so players have to learn how to play that game and said game goes pro circuit that game would be an E-Sport.However not many gamers have a background in athletics. As what one person on here said. It should just be called Pro Gaming. 


TigusVidiks
TigusVidiks

@brain-puddingyes, but chess is only considered a sport for political reasons, coming from the cold war when soviet and US masterminds faced each others, trying to prove some supposed superiority of intelect of their respective countries, highly used as propaganda.

chaosbrigade
chaosbrigade

@brain-pudding  You definition of sport lacks one very major significant characteristic that all sports should have:


The sport requires and demands a certain level of physical prowess and abilities. NOT checked.


Sitting on a chair, fast clicking a mouse and typing on the keyboard is not in any way, shape or form a physical prowess or ability. The most you can do to your body is have a sore ass and joint pains from the fingers, because of LACK OF EXERCISE AND STRETCHING.



The sport should not be judged to pose an undue risk to the health and safety of its athletes or participants.


This point is a joke. MMA, boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai or any combat sports in general ARE universally considered as sports, but they do pose certain level of risk to the health and safety to its athletes. Not to mention race car driving. Hell, even football or soccer can cause injuries to its players.



If we go according to your definition of what a sport is, then guess what, rock paper scissor is a sport. So is playing hopscotch. Knitting. Cooking. This list can go on and on. 


Your argument is fundamentally flawed. 



chaosbrigade
chaosbrigade

@Aelfredus There's no need to crowbar in the word "sport" in it. Just call it for what it is, pro-gaming. 


Stop the pretentious wording. 

crazkanuk
crazkanuk

@troller83 Only if it's competitive, so it would have to be a circle jerk. You could even have multiple classes, maybe sprints and then another for marathons. I agree whole-heartedly, though, masturbation is definitely more of a sport than Chess or Bridge.

chaosbrigade
chaosbrigade

@da_nibbler   IOC is hardly the definitive authority to determine what is a sport and what isn't.


IOC doesn't recognize wushu as a sport, that alone is a serious question to IOC's judgement. 


And btw, you can compete in anything. ANYTHING.


There's an annual World Rock Paper Scissor Tournament where people from all over the world gather in one place and compete, in rock paper scissor, for god's sake. 

chaosbrigade
chaosbrigade

@Iddhi   IOC is hardly the definitive authority to determine what is a sport and what isn't.


IOC doesn't recognize wushu as a sport, that alone is a serious question to IOC's judgement. 

zzanzabar
zzanzabar

@Iddhi Says WHO again...Wikipedia? Look I'm gonna need a LITTLE more authentication than a Wiki report. But if chess is actually accredited as a sport then e-games should be afforded the same designation. 

CaptainHerlock
CaptainHerlock

@limbo12

Because the "gaming community" is desperate for legitimacy, and they think this will help get them there. 

Fursnake
Fursnake

@kargion 

Much in the same way that competitive napping or competitive masturbating could be a sport. Actually competitive masturbating would probably be more of a physically exerting sport than competitive gaming...if you could get participants who could last long enough.

boyd62
boyd62

@TigusVidiks@boyd62 Watching the 30-50 year old guys in the Olympics who are 25-35 pounds overweight and frankly out of shape, pretty much counters your argument regarding curling.   




 @179107199999@boyd62  Just because a person has an exceptional level of skill at something does not equate to it being an athletic or sporting event.

troller83
troller83

@zzanzabar@Iddhi Chess is like existed forewer.... it does not change every half year..... like games do... new modes...new guns...new effects.... there are nooo rules...they constantly change...

chaosbrigade
chaosbrigade

@Fursnake @kargion  In a more serious tone, if going by the definition of "an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.", then professional chefs must be athletes too, and cooking is a sport.


Not to mention people who compete in rock-paper-scissor competitions, or hopscotch competition.


Your definition of sport is full of logic fallacies.  

kargion
kargion

@chaosbrigade @kargion  an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.

chaosbrigade
chaosbrigade

@troller83 @zzanzabar @Iddhi I'm Chinese, I came from China and you will get your ass laughed at hard in cyber-cafe if you even have the notion of considering playing video/computer game as a sport. 


And therefore, I must accuse you of being racist and pulling baseless shit out of your ass. 


troller83
troller83

@zzanzabar@Iddhi POKER IS ALSO A SPORT :D :D :D :D :D


so is lotto...


I say we start a war over this...

let's spill some bloood

troller83
troller83

@zzanzabar@Iddhi only chineese people do esports... cause they never went outside to take a walk or something... or if they do go outside they use iphone gps to go from places to places... never looking up...


all of these "eSports" dudes are very-very-very strange...

CaptainHerlock
CaptainHerlock

@crazkanuk@chaosbrigade@kargion@gatsbythepig 

If you honestly think that there's no difference between Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, LeBron James, or Michael Phelps, and these kids, then you need to have your head examined. The gamer desire to change the definition of what a "sport" is, does not validate the argument. 
And classifying this as a sport is an insult to the people who train hard every day.

crazkanuk
crazkanuk

@chaosbrigade @kargion @gatsbythepig It's not the definition that contains logic fallacies, it's the preconceived notion of what a "sport" is. The reason that definitions are so vague is that there are differences between things like "sport" and "athletics". The issue is that, in North America, we immediately associate sports with athletics. Try making the argument that eSports aren't Sports in, say, South Korea. It's all relative. 


If we teleported back to the mid 1800s I'm sure that our great great great grandparents would be having this same argument about whether Baseball was a sport. All the Olympic athletes were probably like "How can baseball be a sport? What? A bunch of fat, drunken slobs all standing around scratching themselves for 3 hours! When I run, I run for 6 hours.... straight!" The problem was that they were simply outnumbered. So they caved and called baseball a sport. So what this page out of history has shown us is that it doesn't matter, the masses will re-write the history books in time anyway. If eSports become popular enough there will be a Call of Duty competition broadcast from the Olympics. 



gatsbythepig
gatsbythepig

@kargion The level of physical exertion you are referring to is more about over use of joints.  Tendonitis is what occurs when performing the same movements over an over.  I have suffered this in my hips, from snowboarding(on a team) for years, and I have suffered what I call Nintendonitis.  I have a bad thumb, probably from a lot of falls in competitions, but mostly from using the thumb stick too much- 100s of hours playing halo and gta.  Hurting your back from sitting or hurting your wrists from keeping them in the same position isn't so much physical exertion as poor posture and use of your body.

chaosbrigade
chaosbrigade

@kargion @chaosbrigade @gatsbythepig  In a more serious tone, if going by the definition of "an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.", then professional chefs must be athletes too, and cooking is a sport.


Not to mention people who compete in rock-paper-scissor competitions, or hopscotch competition.


Your definition of sport is full of logic fallacies. 

kargion
kargion

@chaosbrigade @kargion @gatsbythepig  True to an extent.  Since you body controls your muscles.  The problem is people who don't professional game are making a gross statement saying its not a sport.  I'm sorry about the 1940s logic of football and basketball are sports nothing else is dated and no longer true.

chaosbrigade
chaosbrigade

@kargion @gatsbythepig @chaosbrigade Muscles have no memories. The term muscle memories is an extremely misunderstood and misused term. "Muscle memory" really involves the brain to recognize and remember certain movement patterns in the body, it has nothing to do with the muscle. 

chaosbrigade
chaosbrigade

@kargion @chaosbrigade If sitting on a chair, starring into a monitor, clicking on a mouse and typing on a keyboard is your definition of "physical exertion", I can't help but wonder how many pounds you weigh. 

kargion
kargion

@gatsbythepig @kargion @chaosbrigade Incorrect, if you have ever trained for a game competition you know it takes practice to build muscle memory, and to not get shoulder,back and wrist issues.  This in its self is physical exertion.  Pratice 12 hours a day and then tell me it doesn't take physical exertion.  Physical exertion doesn't mean just running.