Esports are the New Breed of Sports
By Thomas Formoso, Managing Editor
You’re in the zone. You are using the right blend of competitiveness, the necessary hand-eye coordination, or the amount of concentration and communication required to succeed. Finally, it all pays off: you score the game-winning goal in overtime.
If you thought I was talking about a game of soccer, well, you’re half right. This is the common scenario present in the game “Rocket League.” Think cars driving around, kicking an oversized soccer ball into the goal. It’s a game which has burst onto the competitive video gaming scene.
The scenario that I explained is very common among most competitive gaming, give or take a few minor details. Games such as “Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege,” a five-versus-five team-based shooter, the aforementioned “Rocket League”and “World of Warcraft” have taken the mainstream media by storm, even catching the eyes of Turner Broadcasting and ESPN, who have started to delve into televising these sports.
But why should eSports be considered sports? As far as I’m concerned, they still require a lot of the tools needed to be competitive. A lot of people get hung up on the lack of a physical aspect to eSports, but that shouldn’t detract from the mental state of mind that eSports requires.
In my mind, anything that is in an organized format that requires some combination of the skills mentioned above should be considered a sport.
Chess? You bet. NASCAR? I cannot fathom how people don’t consider it a sport. Golf? Have you honestly ever tried to golf? I have, and it was extremely hard.
There also tends to be a negative stigma toward gaming, as usual. As technology has advanced and gaming has become much more involved and requires much more skill, the competitiveness of games such as the yearly iteration of “FIFA” and “Madden,” along with titles such as “Call of Duty” have joined in on the fun. No longer are people solely playing games at home whenever they have time. Now, people are playing competitively, traveling the world and earning a living, just like normal athletes. There is a lot of money being put into the eSports animal and the prize payouts for various teams are staggering.
It’s easy to overlook eSports as less than real sports. On the surface, it’s just some people playing video games. How could that be classified and grouped with “actual” sports such as baseball, soccer, volleyball, or football?
Well, I’m here to tell you that it can.
Competitive? Yes. Sport? No.
By Anthony Gabianelli, Assistant Sports Editor
In the sports section of your newspaper, whether it’s The Montclarion or The New York Times, you get your round-ups on baseball, hockey, football, basketball, etc. You read about the physical effort that these athletes put in just for their team to win a game. You read their reaction to that win or loss and how they plan on overcoming that loss to better themselves for the next game.
Notice in that first paragraph I used the terms “physical” and “athlete.” These are terms that, through the evolution of technology, have seemed to have their definitions blurred with the uprising of eSports.
An eSport, for those who don’t know, is competitive gaming. Sitting in front of a screen and clicking buttons on a controller or moving your mouse on the mouse pad has, in recent years, become a “sport.”
This simply is false, as the lack of physicality and athletes clearly separates eSports from actual sports like soccer, or any of the sports you would find in a sports section of a newspaper.
But then you get things like ESPN in 2015 airing a “League of Legends” tournament and people on Twitter complaining about it using the exact same reasoning I’m writing this editorial about. But there’s something that these viewers forgot. ESPN stands for “Entertainment and Sports Programming Networks.” So, if eSports aren’t sports, then what exactly are they then?
eSports are entertainment and nothing more than that. They may share similarities with any of the traditional sports above, but there are still many differences. Just because you put something in front of the word “sports,” does not make it a sport. Look at NASCAR in a similar light. NASCAR is a “motorsport,” yet it does not require the physicality that a sport like football does. Even chess, which some people do insist is a sport, is a “mental sport.”
Anyone can also be a professional gamer. A good internet connection and decent specs on your computer can make you the next big name in gaming, if there has ever been one. These pro gamers spend nearly 12 hours a day training for the next competition. This dedication is something I rather admire, but there is still a difference.
Athletes train to achieve peak physical strength. You train the right way and try not to cheat, and you could be the next Michael Jordan or Tom Brady. Training in eSports is rather detrimental to your health. Aches and pains in your hands from tapping away at your keyboard could have prolonged effects on your health, and looking at a bright screen for too long can hurt your eyes. Yes, if you were practicing with a teammate for football and get hit in the head too hard you can get a concussion, and that too could have long term effects on your health. But new protective gear could one day erase these injuries. For eSports, however, glasses and gloves would only dull the pain for so long.
The fact of the matter is, eSports are purely a source for entertainment for those who excel more in gaming than in actual sports. I myself have found myself playing more video games, like “Overwatch” or “Rocket League,” that have their own professional competitive leagues, but just because I play “Overwatch” more than I do baseball, doesn’t mean I’m looking to be the next Seagull, or part of any big competitive team like Cloud 9.
eSports are like peanuts in this case. While peanuts have the word “nuts,” in them, they are not a type of nut, but rather a legume. In a similar way, while eSports has “sports” in the name, it is the furthest thing from any sport we watch or play today.